CERCA assessment is carried out under the principles of quality, transparency and objectivity. Through assessment, deviations can be corrected and what works well can be enhanced. Through assessment, the researchers and the centre administrators become aware that their work is reviewed for impact and interest. And finally, through assessment, we look into the use made of public money, which is of paramount importance in our system. Assessments have long been a vital source of information, thanks to which the Government can shape its policy on centres knowledgeably and not only prospectively.
The proper functioning of the CERCA centres has gradually been verified through CERCA assessment, which has continued to progress until completing the second cycle started in 2016. This task, well understood by the centres, helps to improve our institutions and makes us better known internationally thanks to the assessors who agree to take part on the panels.
HRS4R, the tool for applying the European Charter & Code for Researchers
Since 2014, CERCA has supported all its centres in achieving HRS4R accreditation. Currently, all CERCA centres have this distinction, which accredits them as entities committed to the European Charter & Code for Researchers. With it, the European Commission recognises them as centres of excellence in HR management and endorses them in this area when it comes to attracting new researchers and their projects.
Selection of directors
The directorship of CERCA centres is of vital importance, as it marks the institutions’ paths for years. For this reason, the selection system must ensure, in addition to the candidate’s scientific solvency and management capacity, the endorsement of the scientific community itself, as is done in the main European research institutions. CERCA acts as the executive secretariat in this process, which begins with a public and international call for applications that is open to the entire scientific community.
CERCA Code of conduct
A framework of reference has been defined around the centres, offering a commitment to good practice in science and management, following the recommendation of the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA).
The CERCA Code of Conduct has filled a significant gap in our system of centres and provides impetus and guarantees of a job well done in terms of transparency, open access to data and results, management of industrial property, scientific integrity, and relations with the media, among others.
CERCA data management strategy
In the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme, the European Commission launched a pilot initiative on research data that in 2017 was extended to all projects. Continuing with this strategy, in the next Horizon Europe framework programme it will be mandatory to publish data openly and to produce a data management plan. For this reason, since 2018, CERCA has been implementing the Open Data Action Plan for CERCA centres, to facilitate and rationalise data infrastructures, work with the European FAIR criteria and have a data management plan adapted to each institution and project. No other initiative in Catalonia or in Spain exists, which means that the CERCA centres will spearhead its application.
Stimulating knowledge transfer and Gínjol patent funds
The scientific results and the transfer of technology and knowledge of the CERCA centres are outstanding, and the contribution of I-CERCA should allow this dynamic to continue and gain momentum. To this end, the Gínjol patent fund was created in order to strengthen the centres’ transfer projects in terms of intellectual and industrial property protection. In the seven calls for proposals, Gínjol has funded 60 projects with a total of €594,000 and has contracted, jointly with several centres, access to the world’s main technology commercialisation platform and several patent databases.
Women’s occupancy of high-level posts in science is not proportional to the number of women qualified to do so, and the number of women in leadership positions is almost stagnant or increasing very slowly. Increasing the participation of women in the CERCA system is a shared goal in which we have been decisively involved, incorporating specific measures that take advantage of highly qualified human capital. Access to management positions by women researchers, the incorporation of women onto scientific advisory boards, avoiding recruitment biases and, ultimately, incorporating a gender perspective into research must be everyone’s job.