MERCI – Monitoring European Research Council‘s Implementation of Excellence

Start of the project: 01-Feb-2009 - End of the project: 30-Sept-2014

The MERCI project aims to evaluate the "Starting Grants Program", introduced in the year 2007 by the European Research Council (ERC). The purpose of the "Starting Grants" is to provide "excellent" postdoctoral researchers with the opportunity to rapidly qualify for a professorship or leading position in science by leading an independent research group (up to ¤ 2 million per grant for the duration of up to five years). The ERC set up this funding scheme based on the perception that Europe still offers insufficient opportunities for postdocs to develop independent careers which leads to a dramatic waste of research talents. Besides its intention to facilitate individual career development the ERC funding schemes aim to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA).

MERCI intends to assess the impact and outcome of the ERC funding program on the career development of postdoctoral researchers but it also relates to the dimension of the institutional environment as well as to the research structures within the ERA. Since the Starting Grants program has only been established recently, we put a strong emphasis on the program's implementation. Beyond monitoring the implementation of the program, our evaluation study contributes to clarify the question under which conditions young scientists can conduct excellent research and how funding programs should be designed accordingly. By doing so, we aim to contribute to the current discussion in science policy.

In order to analyze the impact of the ERC funding scheme, we apply a longitudinal design and a multi-method-approach (triangulation) comprising an online panel survey with two survey waves, semi-structured interviews as well as a bibliometric analysis.


Dr. Antje Wegner

External Contact

Prof. Dr. Michael Meuser, TU Dortmund
Dr. Matthias Winterhager, Universität Bielefeld

Funded by

European Research Council – ERC (FP7-Ideas)