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How to do Better Science-a roundtable with Joel Schaad from the Better Science team

On 31 May 2021, actionuni held a roundtable on the theme of improving research culture with Joel Schaad, the project coordinator of Better Science as the main speaker. Researchers from several Swiss Higher Education Institutions participated. Delegatesboard members and some guests of actionuni were invited in this roundtable. The main objective of actionuni was to promote and support the better science initiative. 

Joel presented Better Science

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a Swiss-wide initiative that started in the University of Bern. It aims to raise awareness around the theme of healthy research culture in academia and to open the dialogue on how to improve it. In particular, Better Science has crafted ten calls to action, which can be found and supported on their website. The presentation was followed by a round of discussion, during which the members of the audience actively asked questions and shared their opinion on this important topic. Participants agreed that there is a need to improve research culture and appreciated the charter and direction set by Better Science. Several attendees were of the opinion that to achieve a better research culturestructural changes and concrete measures coming from the top are neededThe question of how to monitor the evolution of research culture was also raised  

Overall, the event successfully engaged researchers from different universities and led to interesting discussions, with the prospect of a follow-up workshop or event related to the topic of improving research culture.  

actionuni’s first Open Science Workshop held on 29 April 2021

On 29 April 2021, actionuni held a 1.5-hour workshop online on Zoom in collaboration with MVUB (Mittelbauvereinigung Universität Bern), Eurodoc (European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers) and OILS (Open Innovation in Life Sciences).

Fifteen early-career researchers from the Universities of Bern, Lucerne, Zurich, Geneva and the ETH Zürich participated in the workshop. After a welcome address by co-president Rashmi Rai-Rawat, the presenter, actionuni board member Melanie Röthlisberger, gave a broad overview of Open Science practices with a particular focus on Open Access, covering topics such as routes to Open Access, its benefits and disadvantages, and national read-and-publish contracts in Switzerland. After introducing the main policy makers in Switzerland and their requirements and strategy, the participants then had to assemble information on structural conditions around Open Science at their own institution, such as the existence of Open Science Policies, (financial) support for Open Science

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, and name of the institutional repository. Despite the small number of participants, discussions were lively and in-depth political, showcasing the high interest that early-career researchers have in the impact of open science policies and the changing publishing landscape on their academic work.


Covid19: and the gender gap gets bigger

Early analyses suggest that female academics are posting fewer preprints and starting fewer research projects than their male peers. What appeared anecdotal to begin with is slowly taking on a more defined shape worth investigating and correcting asap.
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Actionuni wants you!

Actionuni is opening up positions in its core and extended board. If you

a) are a Switzerland-based mid-level staff member

b) are enthusiastic about supporting mid-level staff across Switzerland

c) have capacity and interest in teamwork,

please take a look at our open positions advertisement and apply!

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OECD Task force on research precariousness-an analysis

Please follow the link below to reach a detailed and ongoing analysis of research precariousness carried out by the OECD with the support of actionuni-nominated participants:

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Covid-19: Keeping open channels

Dear members of actionuni,

A few weeks have now passed since the beginning of the state of exception and the lockdown of all higher-level education institutions in Switzerland.

These are challenging times for us all and especially for the many among us with fixed-term contracts whose work is heavily impacted by the current state of affairs. The actionuni board truly hope you’ve managed to find a satisfying balance between home-office tasks, care-taking duties, remote teaching and home-schooling, impending deadlines, queuing outside supermarkets and post-offices etc.

We believe that, now more than ever, it is vital that each one of our member associations keeps regular and constructive open channels with upper level management at their respective university, while gathering evidence on challenges mid-level academic staff faces on a daily basis. This will allow for a serious discussion of mid-level staff concerns, anxieties and measures taken to reduce the disastrous impact this situation is already having on our peers.

For this reason, please let us know of any initiative concerning the current crisis and/or official communication between your association and upper level management. This will allow us to act as a coordinating platform for the sharing of information and experiences, both positive and negative.

If you already have concrete information on how:

  • your university plans on handling fixed-term contracts;
  • compensation measures for lost experimental material and research time will be enacted;
  • tools to allow mid-level staff to proceed with didactic tasks have been implemented;

please let us know as soon as possible so we can share experiences and potential solutions across our membership.

Aside from university-specific measures

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, the Swiss National Science Foundation, a major national contributor to mid-level staff activities and salaries, has also adopted specific measures to deal with this crisis.

Swissuniversities, the umbrella association of Swiss higher education institutions, has listed dedicated webpages from the different universities regarding measures and strongly supported a call to publishers to make relevant research accessible.

There is much anxiety and at times confusion as to what the future holds. We’ll do our best to inform you and support you whenever possible. Most importantly, we wish you all the best in these trying times and look forward to your news and communications.

From the board of actionuni

Covid-19: Message to all actionuni members

Dear actionuni members,

The current covid-19 pandemic is putting significant pressure on academic mid-level staff members. All physical teaching has been currently suspended, yet research and administrative activities are meant to continue as before in many universities across the country.

Those of us who have school-aged children are now faced with school closure and no concrete measures for alternative care-taking options. This exacerbates the already difficult situation at work and creates much stress and anxiety in a professional category that has its fair share of both on a regular basis.

This is an aspect that, in calmer times, will have to be raised on a national level. Expecting mid-level staff to work and, in some cases and at the same time, care for children without delegating to grandparents who are at a higher risk of severe complications, is simply incoherent and frankly incomprehensible.

Given the current severity of the situation, we are suspending all actionuni initiatives that would require board members and other delegates to travel to meet, effective immediately. Similarly and as many of you have already done, we urge you to reschedule all initiatives that are not absolutely essential, to safer times.

Yesterday’s governmental press conference underlined the necessity to do all we can, together, as a community, to stop spreading this infection to the more vulnerable and fragile among us.

We all have to:

  • wash our hands frequently
  • stay home if ill
  • keep a safe distance of at least 1 meter when engaged in social interaction
  • avoid inter-generational mixing as much as possible

We recommend you to:

  • engage in home-office activities whenever possible
  • modify commuting habits by avoiding public transportation if possible
  • collaborate with department and institute heads to facilitate operations while maintaining worktime flexibility
  • make use of the many available online tools to facilitate distance learning and teaching
  • encourage others , whenever possible and in line with contractual obligations, to work from home

We urge you to keep abreast of all developments by consulting the official website of the federal department of health (BAG). New measures such as a reduction in public mobility may be put in place in the near future so we advise you to stay updated. Uni Lausanne has adopted this policy yesterday already and other universities will likely follow soon.

We from actionuni wish you all the best in these trying times and look forward to getting back to our work in a safe and normalized environment.


With our best wishes,

actionuni Co-Presidents

Carmen Faso, Isabel Bolliger and Rashmi Rai-Rawat

UZH Summer School on the Fundamentals of Open Data, Research Data Management, and Open Access

Exciting news from the Graduate Campus at UZH:

“Are you unsure what FAIR data is, or how to write a data management plan?

Are you wondering about copyright, or how to manage sensitive data properly?

Do you want to know more about the various Open Access roads

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, and how you can avoid predatory journals?

Apply for the UZH Summer School on the fundamentals of Open Data, Research Data Management, and Open Access, and navigate Open Science with confidence! The Summer School takes place at the University of Zurich from June 29 to July 3, 2020. More information can be found in the attached flyer or on the website:

Please also see the flyer here

Frauenstreik: where do we go from here?

Last June’s Frauenstreik marked a historical chapter in the constant struggle towards equality in academic environments.

Where is this leading us and which measures are now necessary to maintain momentum towards driving change towards equal opportunities for all?

Come and join men and women in sharing viewpoints and perspectives on Friday 27. March , in the main building of UniBern, for the event:

Geschichten des Gelingens_Flyer


Mental health and mid-level staff: a gloomy perspective

Mental health in academic working environments has become an increasingly important topic of discussion over the past few years. This issue is especially relevant to mid-level staff since it is almost inevitably associated with career precariousness, unhealthy pressure to perform and lack of long-term perspectives.

Please follow this link to an op-ed published by our colleagues at the University of Neuchatel on Le Temps.

Further reading on this perspective can be found in this excellent article published on the Tribune de Geneve.

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