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IRSA at ESOF 2012

The IRSA will hold two public sessions at ESOF 2012.

1st ESOF session: "How to make a successful transition from academia to industry?"

Friday July 13, 2012 8:00am - 9:30am @ Liffey Hall 1

Panel Discussion:
Chair - Dr. John Walsh (Chairperson, Irish Research Staff Association)

Dr. Karen Power (IRSA and University College Dublin)
Mr. Leonard Hobbs (Intel Ireland)
Prof. Anita Maguire (University College Cork)
Prof. Jacques Bittoun (Université-Paris Sud)
Dr. Gregory Sorensen (Siemens Healthcare)
Ms. Patricia Reilly (Cabinet of EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation)

As the number of PhD graduates worldwide continues to increase the percentage of graduates who will secure long-term employment within the academic system has been greatly reduced. As such, there is an increasing pool of highly qualified postdoctoral researchers looking towards alternative careers, including industrial research opportunities. Yet there are few well-defined career paths for researchers either within academia or in industry. The number of PhD graduates currently moving to research jobs in private business appears to be very small, a trend which is particularly evident in Ireland. In order to facilitate easier transition from academia to industry there is a need for increased interaction and discussion between academic institutions and industry. This will inform potential employers of the transferable skills acquired during a doctoral degree and develop greater awareness among PhD researchers of the challenges and opportunities in applying for private sector jobs. Such a process would also encourage academic institutions to promote career development at PhD level which is appropriate for careers outside academia. Perhaps equally important, such ongoing interaction should develop a greater appreciation of the necessity for two-way mobility between academia and private business, rather than the more limited idea of a one-way transition to industry.

Policy Issues
Key questions which will be addressed by the participants:
Are PhD graduates poorly prepared for employment in industry? Does the perception of `over-qualified' graduates represent myth or reality?
Is there a need for greater flexibility on the part of the employers in assessing the potential contribution of PhD graduates?
Is there a requirement for more coherent career development at PhD level, potentially geared towards a wider range of careers than the traditional academic path and how is this to be achieved while maintaining the academic rigour of the research degree?
Has `transition' been considered in excessively narrow terms, being solely envisaged as a move from academia to industry, without taking into account the potential for fruitful collaboration and greater mobility on the part of researchers between HE institutions and private enterprise?
Does the dominant focus on `transition' from academia to industry neglect the possibility that researchers may make a significant contribution to public service in policy or administrative roles?
What is the responsibility of the state and public agencies in developing a more structured but flexible process of transition between the HE sector and the business world?
Is there greater scope for more PhD programmes run jointly between academia and industry?

This session will commence with contrasting perspectives from a number of stakeholders (including academia, industry, the European Commission and an Irish PhD graduate) on their views of the problems as well as the potential opportunities in moving from academia to industry. The first part of the session will serve to frame the issue and will be followed by an interactive panel discussion of the issues highlighted with questions from attendees. The panel discussion will help to highlight the potential value of PhD trained researchers to the industry sector while providing academic institutions and researchers with a more clearly defined focus on the additional skills or training that would make PhD graduates more suitable for industry. The list of proposed panellists will allow for discussion of the issues not only at a national level but also in Europe and internationally.


2nd ESOF session: "International Consortium of Research Staff Associations" -- Part 1

Saturday July 14, 2012 10:45am - 12:45pm @ Ecocem Room

The session will discuss plans for the consolidation of the nascent EURSA (European research Staff Association) and the larger group ICoRSA, the International Consortium of Research Staff Associations, e.g. securing funding, regular communication, and governance structures.

Until recently, national researcher associations were relatively isolated and rarely communicated with one another. The past two years have seen increasing communication between national associations in Ireland (IRSA), the United Kingdom (UKRSA), Canada (CAPS), the United States (NPA), and South Africa (SARSA), ultimately leading to the development of an international consortium. The international consortium will be collaboration between national associations and includes reciprocal arrangements with other researcher associations such as the Global Young Academy (GYA), Eurodoc, and the World Association of Young Scientists (WAYS).

EURSA and ICORSA will inform policy by:
Representing the interests and views of researchers before international organizations eg, UNESCO, ICSU, and the World Science Forum;
Disseminating information on international policy to national associations;
Holding an annual forum for national associations to discuss their concerns and share best practices.

Welcome - Gordon Dalton, International Chair IRSA
Opening - Martin Hynes, Chief executive of ESF

11.00 am - 11.30 am:
Introduction by each member of the association (roughly 2 minutes per participant). There are approximately 24 participant associations attending.
11.30 am - 12.15 pm: Chair Cathee Philips, NPA
Panel 1: What are research staff associations and their value to their countries? What are researchers and their value to the community?
12.15pm - 1.00pm: Chair John Walsh, IRSA
Panel 2: What are the policy issues that research staff associations address? How can EURSA and ICoRSA offer guidance to international policy bodies?

(closed session): "International Consortium of Research Staff Associations" -- Part 2

Saturday July 14, 2012 2.15pm - 4.45pm @ Trinity College Dublin

Defining the vision, mission and governance of ICoRSA and EURSA...

2.15pm Introduction to the purpose and structure of the session
2.20pm Defining the vision for ICoRSA and EURSA
Vision: outlines what the organisation wants to be, or how it wants the world in which it operates to be (an "idealised" view of the world). It concentrates on the future. It can be emotive and a source of inspiration. For example, a charity working with the poor might have a vision statement which reads "A World without Poverty." Brainstorm and facilitation using the reduced Delphi method to gain consensus.
2.50pm Defining the missions for ICoRSA and EURSA
Mission: Defines the fundamental purpose of an organisation, succinctly describing why it exists and what it does to achieve its vision. For example, the charity above might have a mission statement as "providing jobs for the homeless and unemployed". Vision and mission are different, with the vision being a descriptive picture of future state, and the mission being an action statement for bringing about what is envisioned (ie. the vision is what will be achieved if the company is successful in achieving its mission).
Handout of current mission statements of contributing associations.
Brainstorm and facilitation using the reduced Delphi method to gain consensus.
3.20pm Agreeing the governance of for ICoRSA and EURSA
Using examples of governance of those contributing associations that are umbrella organisations.
4.20pm Wrap up and consolidation of decisions made
4.40pm Close

     July 2012

Contract Staff Liable to Enhanced Redundancy following Important Legal Precedents

Release from the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT): PDF

     June 2011

The Plight of Post-Docs

There is quite a storm brewing on the Irish Times Letters pages about the careers, expectations, and opportunities for post-doctoral researchers. A letter by Paddy Healy on the 29th March listed some of the many frustrations felt by the majority of Irish post-docs that we speak to:

The vast majority of the 3,000 postdoctoral researchers in universities and other third-level institutions are employed on temporary contracts. They have less security of employment than an unskilled employee in general employment. They are conducting research at the very highest international level.

But with one notable exception of Trinity College, third-level institutions are developing HR systems designed to prevent the researchers achieving continuity of employment. The most reprehensible arrangement has been put in place at UCD where "post-docs" are deemed to be on a "training course" for four years, after which their employment is discontinued.

There has since been replies both for and against, including one from Trinity's TRSA highlighting the discrepancies between the HEA's Employment Control Framework and the continued touting of a "smart economy". For more on the conversation go The Irish Times here, or check out what the Postdoc Forum have to say.

     March 2011

IRSA Meeting

Sara Morrissey (DCU), Fionnuala Hickey (UCD) and John Walshe (TCD) met with Aidan Hodson and colleagues on the 20th of January in the Dept. Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. Aidan is a Principal Officer and the focus of the discussion was to inform him of IRSA, to discuss elements of the HERG document (particularly mobility and the research career path) as well as other research policies. The meeting went very well and he is keen to maintain contact.

     January 2011


Stephen Simpson from SFI will be presenting in Cork to ARCS on the 30th of November.

     November 2010


The next IRSA meeting is to be held in Cork on the 26th of November.

     November 2010


VITAE in UK has asked IRSA and a rep from UKRSA to go to Brussels (1st December) to the Research Alliance group of Research Careers, to present a case for setting up the new European Research Staff Association.

     November 2010


Gordon Dalton and Tony McElligott are to attend the UKRSA AGM in London on the 4th of November. Gordon is scheduled to give a presentation about IRSA, while Tony will chair a workshop. They will also take part in discussions with VITAE on the new European Research Staff Association (ERSA) set-up.

     October 2010

IRSA Meeting

Pat Cunningham attended the last IRSA meeting. He gave preliminary support for the European Research Staff Association (ERSA) concept and involvement for both IRSA and ERSA in the forthcoming European Science Open Forum (ESOF 2012) to be held in Dublin. It is planned to have the inaugural meeting of ERSA at ESOF 2012 in Dublin.

     September 2010


UCD have started their new RSA inaugurated by Conor O’ Carroll.

     August 2010

IRSA Meeting Update

Pat Cunningham will attend the next IRSA meeting 20th Sept to discuss ESOF 2012 and IRSA involvement. Possible also interested attendees may be Conor O’Carroll and Marti Hynes. Venue investigated at the moment is IUA offices.

     August 2010

Stephen Simpson (SFI)

Stephen Simpson from SFI will be presenting at the ARCS in Cork in October. Stephen will also be contacting Ruth Freeman and Frank Gannon with interest in the set up of the European research staff association.

     August 2010

London and UKRSA

IRSA was invited to present at the second convened meeting of UKRSA. Present were David Proctor and David Foley. Also present were representatives of Vitae, the UK government funded organisation which is set up to support contract researchers. Vitae funds events, travel and provides support admin for UKRSA. Gordon Dalton from IRSA gave a presentation on IRSA experiences over the last two years. UKRSA was particularly interested in its European experiences as well as its interaction with funding bodies and stakeholders.

     July 2010

Galway and Martin Hynes

A meeting was held in NUIG Galway between Martin Hynes from IRCSET and the social network research centre (DERI) in NUIG. IRSA was asked to attend to participate in the discussion on the set up of a social network tool for contract researchers consisting of a CV portal and discussion forums. LinkedIn was eventually agreed upon as the platform of choice. The platform is due for completion to coincide with the Dublin Globe Forum in November.

     July 2010

EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) 2010

IRSA was represented at ESOF in Turin by Hasheem Mannan and Gordon Dalton.

     July 2010

IRSCET Funding Aggreed

IRCSET has agreed to fund and organise the following:
  • A joint networking and CV sharing platform via Diaspora similar to that organised in Germany. A workshop will be organised to discuss the platform.
  • Attendance of 2 members of IRSA at Euro Science Open Forum (ESOF) in Turin in July.

     June 2010

IRSA to present at CREST

IRSA will be presenting at the Council of Europe’s CREST Scientific and Technical Research Committee in Dublin in June, on the invitation of Conor O Carroll of the IUA. IRSA presenters will be Gordon Dalton and Carol Lynam from DCU. The presentation outline will be an introduction on IRSA and its strategies as well as a presentation on Irish Researcher experiences.
     June 2010

Paycuts Initiative

An initiative on reversal of the pay cuts for Marie Curie researchers is underway, being led by the TCD association. If you are a Marie Curie researcher that has been affected by recent paycuts and want to more then contact your local RSA or IRSA directly.
     April 2010

Queen's University Joins IRSA

Queen's University Belfast has recently joined IRSA at the recent IRSA meeting.
     April 2010