The University of Konstanz provides sustainable conditions for junior researchers to be able to carry out excellent research and establish their own reputation both at home and abroad. Right from the start, the University of Konstanz encourages independent research in its students and supports researchers between doctoral studies and professorship in a full range of career choices. Through its internationalisation strategy, the university strives to recruit leading researchers from around the world and, conversely, to expand its academic network by helping its junior researchers obtain attractive appointments at universities both in Germany and abroad. The university values its researchers between doctoral studies and professorship and recognises the importance of encouraging diversity. It is determined to develop creative ways to keep its researchers informed about their career options at all times and to create transparent decision-making processes for better career planning.
In its “Konstanz Code of Practice for Postdoctoral Researchers”, the University of Konstanz sets out the guidelines and standards that apply to junior researchers. Further details are defined in the department-specific agreements and evaluation regulations for junior professors, which are based upon this code.
The code of practice applies to all junior researchers between doctoral studies and professorship.
The University of Konstanz further creates the position of “Independent Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Konstanz”, which is open to outstanding junior researchers about to qualify for a professorship. The title confers particular privileges and defines a particular set of standards for this group. With this scheme, it wants to improve the overall situation of junior researchers and to ensure equal rights and the greatest possible access to support, no matter what the individual’s career choices. “Independent Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of Konstanz” are expected to take charge of their careers by establishing their own individual research profile and by proving that they can work independently.
“Independent Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of Konstanz” include junior professors, research fellows at the Zukunftskolleg and outstanding post-doctoral researchers who are carrying out independent research and pursuing an academic career. The title is conferred on the basis of a transparent, clearly defined application procedure.
Junior professors become “Independent Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of Konstanz” upon appointment. In some areas, they are subject to additional regulations.
1. Independence and autonomy in research
After completing their doctorate, junior researchers at the University of Konstanz are encouraged to carry out independent research as soon as possible and thus to develop their own research profiles: the university provides a variety of incentives to speed this process along, including the opportunity to acquire and manage their own projects, release from regular duties to allow them to focus wholly on their research as well as additional funding (e.g. via the Committee on Research (AFF)). Like all other researchers, “Independent Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of Konstanz” profit from the overhead funding provided by independently acquired external means. They are also entitled to funding from the Committee on Research (AFF).
All “Independent Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of Konstanz” must adhere to the guidelines to ensure good scientific practice.
After their status has been confirmed, “Independent Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of Konstanz” are provided written confirmation of which university resources they have access to, i.e. office spaces and laboratories, consumables and research funds.
Junior professors are entitled to basic funding as well as an annual amount to help them develop their own research profile.
2. Participation in and qualification for teaching
At the University of Konstanz, we expect our junior researchers to participate in teaching to an extent that is conducive to improving their overall qualifications. We support our junior researchers’ university didactics training.
Post-doctoral researchers are expected to take on supervision and examination responsibilities early on.
“Independent Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of Konstanz” are entitled to teach independently, but must liaise with the relevant department beforehand. In accordance with the individual examination regulations, the university confers upon its “Independent Postdoctoral Researchers” the right to conduct examinations for their own courses and to evaluate bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral theses they have supervised.
3. Transparency and planning of career paths
The formal requirements for each qualification level (e.g. appointment, interim evaluation, Habilitation, tenure track) are defined in a binding and transparent process at the beginning of the candidate’s research activities at the University of Konstanz. This also includes defining performance and quality criteria. These take into account the candidate’s family situation and other diversity criteria including academic seniority. We take our junior researchers’ individual career plans into consideration when determining the duration of their employment at the university.
Under current law, and because the university seeks to promote homegrown talent, its junior researchers have the opportunity to apply for a professorship at the University of Konstanz as part of the regular, competitive professorial appointment processes.
The university-wide criteria for interim evaluations and tenure track evaluations for junior professors are based on subject-specific research and teaching standards. The university believes that defining the requirements in this manner will make it easier for junior professors to plan and fulfil their individual responsibilities. The university-wide evaluation process is laid out in the evaluation regulations for junior professors. Junior professors are notified of the evaluation criteria in writing prior to starting their research activities at the University of Konstanz.
In order to make it easier for junior researchers to plan their academic careers, the University of Konstanz seeks to offer more junior professorships with tenure track options.
The University of Konstanz is aware that not all of its junior researchers will secure appointments at universities or other research institutions. It therefore actively supports career paths outside academia.
4. Participation and representation
At the University of Konstanz, all groups of junior researchers are appropriately involved in decision-making processes: its junior researchers have access to the regular university representation (i.e. the senate, faculty bodies etc.) and are further represented by the university’s Vice-rector for Research and Academic Staff Development. The Committee on Research (AFF) advises the University of Konstanz on matters pertaining to the structural advancement of junior researchers.
The Rectorate maintains close contact with the university’s “Independent Postdoctoral Researchers”.
5. Support and academic persons of trust
At the University of Konstanz, we recognise that the long-term success of our junior researchers depends upon appropriate support from experienced academics. We are committed to assuring and improving the quality of this support.
Right from the start, all our junior researchers have access to a person of trust (a so-called academic person of trust) to help them along the way. These persons of trust are highly experienced and knowledgeable academics who are able to assist junior researchers in developing their career goals and research profile: they can offer support with planning careers both inside and outside of academia and will take gender-specific issues and family situation into account when consulting on possible career paths.
Academic persons of trust may include supervisors or research group leaders (if applicable) or can be chosen freely. They regularly consult with junior researchers between doctoral studies and professorship on matters of career development. Junior researchers may decline this service.
As a junior professor, you have access to three persons of trust (Vertrauenskommission) from the beginning of your appointment: two of them from a related discipline (internal and external) and one from an unrelated discipline. They offer support with developing your research profile and career goals. The individual performance and quality criteria you and your persons of trust jointly agree upon will also help you to set milestones to reach a successful (interim) evaluation. To this end, two meetings should be scheduled six months after the beginning of the appointment at the latest and after 2.5 years. The university takes care to ensure that the Vertrauenskommission’s involvement in the evaluation process is handled as transparently as possible. Junior professors may decline this service.
If a conflict of interest arises between junior researchers and university institutions, the person of trust or the entire Vertrauenskommission can act as mediator.
6. Equal opportunities and family-friendly conditions
The advancement of junior researchers at the University of Konstanz is based on the Code of Practice on Gender Equality and the Equal Opportunity Plan and includes subject-specific targets and measures: we understand that the period of time immediately after the doctorate is essential to the development of our researchers, which is why we want to ensure that all our support tools and measures are gender-equitable. We seek to establish working and research conditions that cater to a huge diversity of staff members and want to ensure that they are able to balance their private and professional responsibilities, for instance by offering regular flexible child care services and by supporting working couples via our dual career programme.
7. Staff development and associated support measures for researchers
The University of Konstanz strives to offer its researchers optimum conditions for further qualification in the fields of research and teaching and the advancement of their careers:
Working in accordance with the university’s overall human resources development strategy, Academic Staff Development and its integrated university didactics unit will help you develop your research and teaching skills. The Academic Staff Development team works university-wide and across departments, providing professional coaching services (including coaching for lecturers), cross-disciplinary workshops and information resources on university didactics and on career options both inside and outside academia.
A closely interlinked network of university institutions like Research Support, the Office for Equal Opportunity, Family Affairs and Diversity, the Welcome Center and the Career Service supports all researchers between doctoral studies and professorship in their professional development. Their services are available to all researchers between doctoral studies and professorship.
For all junior researchers, establishing an international reputation is key to the growth and development of research collaboration projects within and outside the university. Building up its international reputation therefore forms an important part of the university’s public relations activities: We want to encourage our junior researchers to take part in national and international meetings and conferences. We support measures for establishing and expanding our junior researchers’ academic networks. We understand the importance of awards and honours and make active use of our right to nominate candidates for various research awards. All researchers holding a doctorate may publish their research on the university’s SciKon Research Platform and use this opportunity to introduce themselves and their work to their peers.
“Independent Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of Konstanz” can request that their profile be included on their departmental website.
We monitor our junior researchers closely to be able to react quickly if problems arise along the way. Our monitoring system also allows us to observe and evaluate our strategy for ensuring gender equity in the advancement of our junior researchers.