Open, transparent, merit based recruitment policy

Open, Transparent, Merit-based Recruitment (OTM-R) policy is one of the Europan Commission's flagship policies for development of a single European labour market for researchers. OTM-R implies: 1) publication of detailed descriptions of the open positions (including the career development prospects and selection process), on international web-based resources such as EURAXESS portal; 2) transparent and fair selection practices, as well as continuous communication with all candidates about the selection progress and outcomes; 3) taking into account whole range of experiences, skills and traits of the candidates and assessment in both quantitative and qualitative manner. OTM-R includes detailed description of the recruitment process that is inline with the principles of Charter & Code belonging to the Recruitment group. The following recruitment stages are concerned: advertising and application, selection and evaluation, and appointment. Implementing OTM-R policy will help making your institution more attractive place to work with enhanced reputation and image, enabling you to recruit better candidates and to implement equal opportunities.



Improved quality of service Improved access to information Improved procedure/efficiency

Basic information
Categories Institutional Processes
Mobility stages Institutional setup Pre-arrival phase
Delivery schedule Continuous
Importance Essential to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups R2 - R4 researchers
Types of contracts of researchers Permanent employee Fixed term employee
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience More than 15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers More than 12 months
Practice setup

  • Carry-out the detailed self-assessment of your recruitment processes and practices by using OTM-R checklist for institutions. Self-assessment checklist includes 23 questions/dimensions classified in the following groups: OTM-R system, Advertising and application phase, Selection and evaluation phase, Appointment phase and Overall assessment. For each of the dimension, do the assessment (satisfied/substantially satisfied/partially or not satisfied) and suggest indicators for measuring the improvement progress (if not or partially satisfied).

  • Based on the assessment results, develop action plan for improvement.

  • Execute action plan, implement the improvements by building the consensus on the improvement, revising the existing by-laws and other documents, developing new procedures and manuals and disseminating the revisions among relevant stakeholders.

  • Synthesise the organizational OTM-R policy document and ensure its adoption. Publish it on the website in local and English language.

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • HR Department
  • Legal department
Partners involved in practice setup
  • EURAXESS centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Procedures or bylaws are defined or updated
  • User procedure and manual designed

EURAXESS centre is your liaison for communication with European Commission with regard to HRS4R process. OTM-R assessment is part of this process.

Practice delivery

  • The core of the OTM-R policy is the description of open, transparent, merit-based recruitment process. Practice delivery consists of the activities prescribed by this proces in each of the recruitment instances.

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • HR Department
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Process organization developed
  • Number of process audit meetings annually

Examples of practice

Advertising the post

In line with the principles "Recruitment" and "Transparency" of the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment  of Researchers, it is recommended to keep the job advertisement and description of requirements as concise as  possible and include links to more detailed information online. Applicants should be able to find information on:

  • organisation and recruiting unit
  • job title, specifications and starting date
  • researcher career profiles (R1-R4)  with the respective 'required' and 'desirable' competencies
  • selection criteria (and possibly their respective ‘weight’), including knowledge and professional experience (distinguishing the 'required' and 'desirable')
  • number of available positions
  • working conditions, workplace, entitlements  (salary, other benefits, etc.), type of contract

It should  also include:

  • the application procedure and deadline, which  should, as a general rule, be at least two months from the publication date and take account of holiday periods 
  • a reference to the institution's OTM-R policy
  • a reference to the institution's equal  opportunities policy (e.g., positive discrimination, dual careers, etc.)
  • contact details
  • professional development opportunities
  • career development prospects

Source: Report of the ERA-SGHRM Working Group on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R)

Keeping the administrative burden to a minimum

The request for supporting documents should be strictly limited to those which are really needed  in order to make a  fair,  transparent  and merit-based selection of the applicants. Moreover, in cases where certain documents are legally required,  applicants should be allowed to make a declaration in which they engage to provide the proof after the selection process is concluded. For example, applicants  should not have to provide original or translated certificates related to qualifications with their initial application.

It is strongly recommended to allow  the transmission of supporting documents by electronic means and possibly to develop an e-recruitment tool.

Source: Report of the ERA-SGHRM Working Group on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R)

Acknowledging receipt and providing additional information

All applicants should receive an (automated) e-mail acknowledging that their application has been received and providing them with further information on the recruitment process, indicating the next steps and including an indicative timetable (shortlisting or not, interview period, appointment date). Care should be taken to allow sufficient time before the interview for external candidates to make the necessary travel arrangements and prepare properly for the interview. If there are subsequently significant changes or delays to this process, all applicants should be duly and timely informed by (a standard) e-mail.

Source: Report of the ERA-SGHRM Working Group on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R)

Setting up selection committees

In line with the principle "Selection" of  the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers,  selection committees should be established for all profiles (R1-R4), though the size and composition of the committees may  differ according to the profile and type of contract. The process  to nominate and appoint the selection committee should be transparent and made public.

The selection committees should be independent, members should not  have any conflict of interest and the decisions must be objective and evidence-based rather than  based on personal preference. The committee should make  best use of the expertise of external members. The composition of the committee should be appropriately diverse. In order to achieve this,  the following elements should be considered:

  • a minimum of 3 members;
  • gender balance, e.g., not less than one  third of one gender in  the committee;
  • inclusion of external expert(s) in all  committees (external meaning  outside the institution);
  • inclusion of (or contribution from) international experts, who should be proficient in the language(s) in which the process will be conducted;
  • inclusion of experts from different sectors  (public, private, academic, non-academic), where appropriate and feasible;
  • the committee as a whole should have all the relevant experience, qualifications and competencies to assess the candidate.

Any derogation for certain positions, types of  contract  or indeed for specific disciplines should be clearly set out. 

Source: Report of the ERA-SGHRM Working Group on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R)

Screening and interviewing

All applications should be screened. Depending  largely on the number of applicants as well as the internal human resources available, the  process may involve one  or more steps, e.g., pre-screening to check eligibility, shortlisting  of candidates for interviews, remote interviews by telephone or skype, face-to-face interviews. While remote interviews may often be appropriate, in particular at the first interview stage, they should not altogether replace face-to-face interviews in cases where these  are being conducted for internal candidates. All candidates should be treated equally and in the same way.

It is recommended that  the same selection committee is involved in all steps, although it is recognised that this may not always be feasible and that, for example, one committee may do the initial screening and another may conduct  the interviews. Accordingly, it is  strongly recommended that the process itself is transparent and made known to the applicants, including the various steps.  

In case of face-to-face interviews, the institution should cover the (international) travel and accommodation expenses of the interviewees.

Source: Report of the ERA-SGHRM Working Group on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R)

Assessing merit and future potential

The criteria for selecting  researchers  should focus on both the candidates' past performance and their future potential. The emphasis is likely to change according to  the profile of the post, e.g., when recruiting an  R1 researcher, future potential is likely to outweigh past performance.

In line with the principles "Judging merit", "Variations in the order of CVs", "Recognition of mobility" and "Seniority" of the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment  of Researchers, the evaluation criteria should be consistent with  the requirements of the position as regards research, supervision or, for example, teaching competencies.

Merit should be judged qualitatively as well as  quantitatively, focusing  on results within a diversified career path, taking into account career breaks, lifelong professional development and the added value of non-research experience.

A wide range of evaluation criteria should be  used and balanced, according to the position being advertised. Depending on the specific  profile of  the post, this may include (in alphabetical and not hierarchical order): 

  • acquisition of funding;
  • generation of societal impact;
  • international portfolio (including mobility);
  • knowledge transfer and exchange;
  • management of research and innovation; 
  • organizational skills/experience;
  • outreach/public awareness activities;
  • research performance;
  • supervision and mentoring;
  • teaching;
  • teamwork 

Source: Report of the ERA-SGHRM Working Group on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R)


In line with the principle "Transparency" of  the Code of Conduct for  the Recruitment of Researchers,  all applicants should receive written or electronic notice at the end  of the selection process, indicatively within one month and without  any unnecessary delays.

It is strongly  recommended to inform all applicants who were admitted to the interview about the strengths and weaknesses of their  application. Other applicants, who did not make it to the final stages, should receive a  standard mail informing them of the outcome. All applicants must be entitled to further feedback upon request.

Source: Report of the ERA-SGHRM Working Group on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R)

Complaints mechanism

The institution should establish a procedure to  deal with complaints made by applicants who believe that  they have been treated negligently, unfairly or incorrectly. This procedure should be transparent and made public. It should include an indication of the timeframe within which a complainant will  receive a response, which  should  in principle be no longer than one month.

Source: Report of the ERA-SGHRM Working Group on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R)