Results of the fourth call for proposals

We are grateful for the 371 applications, which we received for the fourth call for proposals and for the big interest in the TALENT Doctoral Programme.

The 371 applications consisted of 344 unique applications and were divided between 106 female, 228 male and 10 undeclared. (For the distribution when it comes to citizenship, departments and programme areas, please see the presentation/statistics in the right hand box.) 113 of the 344 unique applications were eligible, meaning that 231 of the applications submitted did not pass step one of the evaluation, the eligibility and admissibility check. The 231 were notified accordingly by email (individually) on Friday 6 March 2020, 17.00 CET. In other words, 113 applicants made it to step two of the evaluation, the pre-selection at department level.

It was decided to send 40 of the 113 eligible applications, which went to step two of the evaluation, on to step three, the expert/international review. The 73 applicants, who did not make the cut at step two of the evaluation, received an explanatory email with a rejection on Monday 23 March 2020, 17.00 CET. Moreover, the 40 applicants, whose proposals were reviewed as part of step three of the evaluation, were duly notified of this by email on Monday 23 March 2020, 16.00 CET.

At step three, the expert/international review, the 40 applications were each evaluated by two evaluators. 34 applications reached the employment threshold of four; six did not.

Due to COVID-19, the material for step four of the evaluation, the final selection of candidates by the SCIENCE Research Committee, was not ready for the meeting scheduled to take place on Friday 17 April 2020. Thus, the meeting was postponed to Wednesday 22 April 2020 (Skype instead of physical meeting). The committee decided to offer employment to 24 candidates in the score range 5.000-4.400 and place 10 candidates on the waiting list (score range: 4.350-4.025) and reject the applications from the remaining six candidates under the threshold of four.

Compared to the other three rounds, the situation changed at step three, the expert/international review. In the previous rounds, candidates with a score above the threshold of four were offered employment because the number of qualified candidates (meaning candidates above the threshold) did not exceed the number of available positions. In the fourth round, there were more qualified candidates (meaning candidates above the threshold) compared to the number of available positions. This means that we had to start at the top of the ranking list and offer employment to the candidates until we reached the point where there were no more available positions.

On Thursday 23 April 2020, all 40 candidates were informed individually of the decision by email. The email contained information on how to access and download the consensus report, incl. the overall score through the recruitment/application system. The applicants, who received a rejection or were placed on the waiting list, were offered the opportunity to provide comments to the consensus report no later than Monday 4 May 2020, 12.00 CET. One of the applicants sent comments to the consensus report and the TALENT secretariat/the Associate Dean for Research, Professor, PhD, Morten Pejrup replied to the request.

The 24 highest ranked candidates were asked to get back to the TALENT secretariat with a reply no later than 14 May 2020 and state whether they were interested or not. On 15 May 2020, the TALENT secretariat concluded that three of the 24 candidates had declined and the secretariat offered the three available positions to the first three candidates in the waiting list. By the deadline 25 May 2020, two of the three candidates confirmed their interest while the third candidate declined. On 25 May 2020, the secretariat offered the available position to the fourth candidate in the waiting list. The candidate accepted shortly after. In conclusion, all 24 positions were occupied.

Reasons for Rejection at Step one: the Eligibility and Admissibility Check

It is not possible to give an individual and detailed reply to all 231 applicants as to why their proposal was rejected at step one of the evaluation. However, we can convey that the issues in relation to the third call for proposals are the same as for the first, second and third calls for proposals:

  • The mandatory templates were not used or only to some extent and/or the requirements were not respected.
  • The required documentation was missing, incl. one of the requested English tests with the required score.
  • The eligibility criteria (mobility, research experience, MSc level, see here) were not met.

It is important for us to stress that the rejections at step one cover a great variation: some applicants used the mandatory templates and submitted the required documentation but did not live up to the requirement towards e.g. research experience or MSc level. Other applicants did not use any of the mandatory templates and did not submit the requested documents and therefore did not comply with the requirements. 

We would also like to underline that we evaluated the applications at step one, the eligibility and admissibility check according to the eligibility, admissibility and evaluation criteria as communicated and explained in the job advert, the Guide for Applicants (incl. the four mandatory templates), the Evaluation Guide, the FAQ and on the TALENT website. It was clearly stated that all requirements must be met for an application to be considered eligible.

The TALENT secretariat acknowledges that the applicants invested time and efforts in applying. Thus, we would like to emphasize that we on our part had several employees with long and extensive experience with PhD education and the European Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation, in particular the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions check the applications at step one. This was to ensure that only applications meeting the clearly stated eligibility criteria proceeded to step two in the evaluation process and that the applications were assessed in a fair and responsible manner.

Reasons for Rejection at Step two: the Pre-selection at Department Level

At this stage, the proposals were rejected due to lack of sufficient match between the applications and the departments and/or because the applications were not competitive enough compared to the excellent applications submitted to the TALENT Doctoral Programme.

We would like to stress that the TALENT Doctoral Programme is based on excellence and that the big challenge when applying is the project description. Even though applicants meet the criteria at the first step of the evaluation and have drawn up and submitted a project description, the quality of the descriptions vary. When evaluating the applications and assessing whether an applicant would be able to live up to what is expected of a PhD student and conduct the described project, we look at the track record of the applicant, i.e. grades and experience.