The Finnish Union of University Professors’ recommendation for a research period system

Research is one of the core tasks of a professor. Professors are tasked to conduct breakthrough research, to create ideas for research projects, to lead research teams and to ensure funding for their research teams. Professors also serve as independent researchers. The intention of a research period is to provide professors with an opportunity to focus on a task that is essential to their work. To carry out research requires time for thinking and room for creativity. During a research period, the professor is free from teaching and administrative duties. The aim is to enable the professor to concentrate on research/artistic activities, or on developing aspects of teaching. The research period also provides an opportunity to deepen international collaboration.

Research periods serve as a tool for universities to expand their international activities. By advancing the competence of individual professors, the research periods also contribute to the renewal of the universities. During the year in which a research period is realised, certain costs accrue to be paid by the university, for example, for the purpose of recruiting substitute teachers. The outcomes resulting from the research period, such as international publications, are, however, usually realised after a delay of 2–3 years.

A large number of professors take turns in serving in academic management positions (such as vice-rector, dean, department head), which impedes their ability to focus on research. Upon completion of these periods filled with administrative duties, a research period allows for the professors to get updated with the most recent developments in their field.

For whom

Professors / full professors employed on a permanent basis.

Professors returning to their standard tasks after having served in an academic management position (e.g., vice-rector, dean, department head).

How often

An individual professor can take a research period of 12 months every sixth year. It is possible to split the research period and take it, for example, in two periods of 6 months each.

Financing

To compensate for the costs accrued for a research period, the relevant faculty, department or corresponding shall be paid from the university’s core funding.

Agreement on the research period

A research period shall be granted upon application. The application shall include a plan and motivations for the research period.

A written agreement shall be made on the research period.

Salary and other terms and conditions of the employment relationship

Full salary with fringe benefits shall be paid during the research period.

The employment relationship shall continue without interruption throughout the research period, and the employer continues to be responsible for all employer obligations.

The employer shall provide access to any equipment necessary for the work during the research period.

Prior to the start of the research period, an agreement shall be made concerning the compensation of any costs that may occur during the research period. Such costs include, for example, travel and accommodation costs.

A mobility compensation related to a period abroad shall be agreed on and included as an item in the research period agreement. The principles concerning the payment and amounts of compensation shall be specified in a separate guideline of the university in question.

Reporting

Reporting after the research period shall cover the progress of the goals as planned for the research period and the most important achievements.

Substitute work

Arrangements concerning the teaching, supervision and other duties shall be agreed on in advance.

 

Board of the Finnish Union of University Professors, 16 January 2020