Funding of research projects:
Researchers spend a lot of time seeking funding, which prevents them from spending that time on their research assignment. They feel under pressure with regard to funders.
The Research department regularly informs the unit directors so that they can be a point of contact for their teams. The international relations department provides information on all the programmes that exist internationally. Targeted maps of funding opportunities were also offered by the International Projects Unit until 2019. These maps make it possible to identify calls for projects based on the keywords of laboratories and were then presented to members of the laboratory.
There is an International Project Unit newsletter which comes out every two months. A focus is developed on a theme (mostly connected with international projects) and news is presented in it. It is written by the members of the International Projects Unit and by the director and deputy director of the DRV for the Research part. It is sent to IR correspondents (1 person per research unit) and to subscribers. A researchers' café was also created. It met for the first time by videoconference via "zoom" on 2 July 2020. A letter is sent to unit directors and IR correspondents to inform them. The next ones will take place on the first Thursday of each month, starting in October.
Despite everything, it transpires from the discussions in the working groups that there is a weakness in the communication of existing funding possibilities and calls for projects. It is more internal relations than properly institutionalised communication that makes it possible to obtain information.
It also emerged from the discussions that the funding programmes (especially regional) are very focused on equipment. SHS units often do not have access to them because they rarely need expensive equipment.
Finally, a majority of researchers feel that they do not have the necessary resources (in human and financial terms).
However, it also appears that researchers do not easily turn to international funding.
While there is heterogeneity between campuses and between structures (old buildings stand alongside more recent buildings), some researchers point out the “rather old-fashioned” character of the structures in which they work (unsuitable premises, lack of space, lack of offices, need for renovation). They explain this by the fact that the funding goes firstly on equipment and consumables and not on the working environment. There could be more investment on furniture in particular.
A "ticket" system has been set up at URCA but does not seem to be working properly. There is no feedback on the requests made.
A second-hand furniture "store" is in the process of being created at URCA
The equipping of laboratories with equipment is partly done with grants obtained, which sometimes creates challenges. In particular, equipment maintenance is not generally provided for (because not eligible) in the grants requested, which explains why a lot of equipment is underused. Furthermore, the equipment is not always shared as much as possible between the different teams (fund management issue).
The working groups also highlighted the very disparate situation regarding the funding of computers for researchers; some are obliged to use their personal computers while others have their equipment funded either by the faculty or by the laboratory.
This problem also relates to the software that researchers need.
28.6% of respondents state that their work environment is unsatisfactory (environment, equipment, installation). The suggestions, in this field, add to the proposals of the working group: more computers, improvement of the ticket system with the DPLDD (Department of Assets, Logistics and Sustainable Development), improvement of the insulation of buildings (problems with winter heating and overly hot rooms in the summer), laboratories accessible to too many people: repeated theft of equipment, etc.
Reception of doctoral students:
The budget granted to doctoral students is intended to finance the doctorate, but it does not make it possible to finance other research activities: participation in international seminars for example. It actually depends more on the particular policy of laboratories than on an overall University policy.
Health and safety in research:
URCA has produced a safety training plan in order to provide all staff with the minimum level of safety awareness training as well as the necessary additions depending on the activity of each member of staff.
On URCA's intranet, fact sheets and safety posters are available as well as training materials.
A management course is offered to unit directors, to help them become aware of their responsibility, as well as training on the civil and criminal liability of supervisors.
You can't prevent a researcher from going to his laboratory on Sunday to take measurements for example, but it's up to the unit director to organise this to avoid any problems: risk assessment, organisation and liability.
URCA is developing e-learning "moodle" training to enable researchers to train remotely and at their own pace.
A guide on psycho-social risks has been produced by URCA but questions remain as to its method of distribution.
Researchers can benefit from a number of services like all University staff (sporting activities (SUAPS), cultural activities (SUAC, CASUR), social action department), including on offshore sites.
Securing laboratories requires still more investment.