INDEX OF WEB SITES TO WATCH

What Is It?

If you?re an early-career researcher looking to develop your career in Europe, then this site, launched in summer 2003, is certainly one to keep an eye on. One of the initiatives undertaken by the European Commission?s Research Directorate-General as part of its mobility strategy for developing the European Research Area, it is intended to provide the ?functionality that should start to trigger a [truly pan-European] labour market for researchers,? according to DG Research?s Sigi Gruber.

What Can I Find Here?

Well, the first thing to highlight is that this site is exactly what it says it is--a portal. Therefore the site itself doesn?t carry much information. But what it does do is direct you to information elsewhere on the Web. Although very much a work in progress, over time the Researcher?s Mobility Portal should develop into a one-stop shop for information about mobility funding, available research jobs in every European country, and the practicalities of moving to a new place.

Fellowships and Grants

You can search the funding opportunities gathered here from a variety of angles. Firstly, geographically--those offered by the EU, fellowships from other international organisations such as CERN and EMBO, and funding opportunities specific to particular countries. You can further narrow your search to find funding programmes specific to your career stage (postgraduate or less than 4 years research experience; PhD holder or more than 4 years experience; top-level researcher) and/or research field. So in theory you should be able to find grants and fellowships for predoc chemists in Finland or postdoc neuroscientists in Portugal.

Be warned, however, that most of the links currently go to quite general Web pages of the national and international funding bodies concerned, so you?ll probably need to drill down to find the information most specific to your particularly situation. Nonetheless, at least you?ll be pointed in the right direction--a valuable asset when you?re starting to investigate moving to an unknown country.

Job Offers

Just two search options here: research field and country, so you can look for jobs for astronomers in Malta, or mathematicians in Slovenia. Again, though, the proviso applies that the actual links are likely to take you to quite a general page, listing jobs for everyone from agriculturalists to zoologists.

At the time of going to press, this functionality has not yet been activated, but should be available soon. Additional functionality is built into the portal which, it is to be hoped, will make the job search function more sophisticated over time. Firstly, research organisations are invited to register to post employment opportunities on the site. And secondly, researchers can post their CVs online. This will not only allow registered employing organisations to search the database for suitable candidates, but will enable the individual researcher to be alerted when new job opportunities are posted.

Star Ratings

Design






(Very clean--an impressive lack of clutter given the amount of information the site is seeking to portray.)

Ease of Navigation






(Excellent--front page is totally self-explanatory.)

Quality of Information






(Dependent on the outside organisations providing it. Would be better if the portal could direct the user more accurately to the information most relevant to them.)

Practical Information

Many mobile researchers have found that, having received their job offer or fellowship, their problems have only just begun. Diversity may be one of Europe?s strengths, but when it comes to tackling the nitty-gritty of daily life, it can also be a headache. So perhaps the Practical Information section of the Researcher?s Mobility Portal is the most valuable. Once again you can narrow your search by country and get information on ?living? (accommodation, child care and schooling, health, learning the language ?), ?working? (social security, taxation, work permits ?), and ?culture and leisure? (just about everything else). As with the fellowships search facility, it?s a great starting point.

But when it comes to helping researchers with the practicalities of moving, the Mobility Portal has an ace up its sleeve. It can point you not just to virtual resources, but to real live human beings whose job it is to help you with those queries that the Internet just can?t answer. ERAMORE is the shorthand for the European Network of Mobility Centres being developed alongside the portal. For those countries which have already nominated the organisations which are to take the lead in providing this service, clicking on the map of Europe will take you to the contact details of an individual who, if they can?t help you straight away, will know someone who can.

The mobility portal is only just getting started, and can only get better. But it will only do so if early-career scientists use it, showing funding bodies and employers alike that it is worth providing up-to-date links and information to its architects.

Editor?s Note: DG Research would be pleased to get feedback from Next Wave readers letting them know what you think about the new portal. Please use the feedback form on the site to send in your comments about the design, content, and usability of the site--in fact any suggestions you have about how to make it more useful.