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Doctoral Research Scholarships - CEBiCNa

Job description:

The Consortium of Natural Sciences and Biodiversity Schools (CEBiCNa) is opening a call to award 20 (twenty) research Scholarships, in the areas of Natural Sciences and Biodiversity, under the FCT Research Grants Regulation (RBI) and the Research Grant Holder Statute (EBI).
The grants will be funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) under the Collaboration Protocol signed between FCT and the Consortium of Natural Sciences and Biodiversity Schools (CEBiCNa), within the scope of the Ciência LP, Category 2 Centre, under the auspices of UNESCO, in the area corresponding to Biology.

The call is open from February 20 to 23h00 (Lisbon time) of April 22, 2024.
Applications and supporting documents must be submitted on the platform
Each candidate may submit only one application, under penalty of cancellation of all submitted applications. The provision of false statements or plagiarism by the candidates shall be grounds for cancellation of the application without prejudice to the adoption of other sanction measures.

The PhD research scholarships are intended to finance research activities leading to a doctoral degree in the Natural Sciences and Biodiversity Schools of the Portuguese CEBiCNa member universities (FCTUC, FCUP, FCUL, FCT UAc and UMa-FCV), under the scope of the following Doctoral Programmes:
· Doctoral Program in Biosciences (FCTUC)
· Doctoral Program in Biodiversity, Genetics and Evolution (FCUP and FCUL)
· PhD in Biology (FCT UAc)
· PhD in Biological Sciences (UMa-FCV)
The research activities underlying the scholarships are carried out in host institutions associated with the respective doctoral programmes (in-country grants). Research activities should preferably be carried out in collaboration with institutions in Portuguese-speaking African countries or East Timor, and address topics of interest to institutions in these countries. Scholarships are, in principle, one year in length, renewable for up to a maximum of four years (48 months), and no scholarships may be awarded for a period of less than three consecutive months.

Doctoral Research scholarships are intended for candidates enrolled or candidates that satisfy the conditions necessary for enrolment in one of the Doctoral Programmes listed under item 2 of this Notice and who intend to carry out research activities leading to a doctoral degree in host institutions associated with the respective doctoral programmes. The research should preferably involve collaboration with entities in the candidate's country of origin. Candidates should hold a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, preferably with a 5-year degree plan, in the areas of Natural Sciences and Biodiversity or in Biology areas considered related.

4.1 Candidate Eligibility Requirements
Nationals of Portuguese-speaking African countries or East Timor are eligible to apply.
To apply for the PhD Research Scholarship you must:
- Hold a bachelor's or master's degree in the areas of Natural Sciences and Biodiversity or in Biology or related areas, or any other appropriate training, namely Chemistry, Physics, Agricultural Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Pharmaceutical Sciences or Biomedical Sciences.
- Not to have benefited from a doctoral or company doctoral scholarship directly funded by the FCT, regardless of its duration;
- Not hold a doctorate degree.
4.2 Admissibility Requirements for Applications
The following documents must be attached to the application, failing which it will not be accepted:
- Identity card/citizen's card/passport details;
- The candidate's curriculum vitae using the CIÊNCIAVITAE curriculum management platform.
- Certificates of academic qualifications held, specifying the final classification and, if possible, the marks obtained in all subjects taken, or, alternatively, a declaration of honour by the candidate that they have completed their bachelor's or master's degree by the application deadline;
- If applicable, a record of the recognition of academic degrees awarded by foreign higher education institutions and a record of the conversion of the respective final classification to the Portuguese classification scale, or, alternatively, a declaration on the candidate's honour that, in the event of being selected for the doctoral scholarship, they will submit the process for the recognition of the foreign degree equivalent to a bachelor's or master's degree and the conversion of the final classification within 10 working days of the announcement of the final results of this competition. Failure to demonstrate, at the contractualization stage, possession of the academic degree or its recognition will result in the annulment of the candidate's assessment due to an error in the factual assumptions. Failure to submit the conversion of the final classification to the Portuguese classification scale when applying may result in the award of the minimum classification (zero points) in the assessment (sub-criterion A2 "Classifications obtained during the academic career");
- Preliminary proposal for the work plan to be developed and the respective timetable for implementation.
- Signed letter of motivation in which the candidate explains the reasons why they want to join one of the PhD programmes included in this Call; in particular, the letter of motivation should indicate their preferences in relation to the area(s) of work in which they intend to carry out research and the reasons for their interest in the areas mentioned. The candidate may also indicate their preference for the school(s) in the consortium where they intend to carry out their doctorate;
- Letters of Recommendation (two), signed and stamped (if possible), one of which may be a letter of support from a higher education institution, employer or other;
- Write the application and all associated documents, including the letters of motivation and recommendation, in Portuguese.
Regarding the above-mentioned admissibility requirements, please note the following:
- Academic degrees obtained abroad will only be accepted upon recognition by the Directorate-General for Higher Education or a Portuguese public Higher Education Institution, in compliance with the provisions of the applicable legislation on the recognition of foreign qualifications, namely Decree-Law no. 66/2018 of 16 August, and any formalities set out therein must be fulfilled by the time the contract is signed. See the Application Guide here.
- Only candidates who have completed the cycle of studies leading to a bachelor's or master's degree by the application deadline will be admitted. If they do not yet have their degree certificate, a declaration of honour will be accepted from the candidates that they have completed the qualifications required for the purposes of the competition by the application deadline. The award of the scholarship is always dependent on the presentation of proof of the academic qualifications required for the award of the scholarship.

The work plans for doctoral research grants presented in the application may be readjusted at a later date by the supervisors.

6.1 Assessment criteria
The assessment takes into account the merit and motivation of the candidate. Applications considered admissible will be scored on a scale of 0 to 100 points in each of the following assessment criteria:
- Criterion A - Academic and professional career, and classifications obtained;
Sub-criterion A1 - Academic and professional career (if applicable), with a weight of 40%
Sub-criterion A2 - Grades obtained in the academic career, with a weight of 20%.
- Criterion B - Interview (in person or by Skype), with a weight of 20%; if the jury decides not to interview the candidates, criteria C and D will have a weight of 20% respectively.
- Criterion C - Research activity, publications and further training, with a weight of 10%;
- Criterion D - Motivation letter and letters of recommendation/institutional support, with a weight of 10%.
For the purposes of deciding on the award of scholarships, candidates will be ranked according to the weighted average of the classification obtained in each of the four criteria, translated into the following formula:

Final Classification= (0,4xA1+0,2xA2)+(0,2xB)+(0,1xC)+(0,1xD)

For tie-breaking purposes, the candidates will be ranked based on the marks awarded for each of the assessment criteria in the following order of precedence: criterion A, criterion B, criterion C and criterion D.
The jury will endeavour to distribute the scholarship holders evenly among the schools in the consortium.

Important notice for candidates with diplomas issued by foreign higher education institutions:
- Candidates with diplomas issued by foreign higher education institutions may apply and will be assessed using the same criteria as candidates with diplomas issued by Portuguese institutions, provided that they present, in their application, proof of the recognition of the academic degrees and the conversion of the final classification to the Portuguese classification scale under the terms of the applicable legislation;
- Candidates with foreign diplomas who do not provide proof of recognition of the academic degrees and proof of conversion of the final classification to the Portuguese classification scale, will be assessed with the minimum classification (zero points) in sub-criterion A2 "Classifications Obtained in the Academic Course".
- In any case, scholarship contracts with candidates with diplomas issued by foreign institutions will only be concluded upon presentation of proof of recognition of the academic degrees and conversion of the final classification, as indicated above.
Candidates whose application is evaluated with a final classification of less than 70 points will not be recommended for a scholarship.

The candidate evaluation panel is made up of the following elements:
Effective members:
• Helena Freitas (FCTUC), President of the Evaluation Panel
• Cristina Máguas (FCUL);
• Nuno Ferrand de Almeida (FCUP);
Substitut members:
• António Onofre Soares (FCT, UAç);
• Thomas Dellinger (FCV, UMa).
The evaluation panel will assess the applications in accordance with the evaluation criteria set out in this Call for Tenders, weighing up the elements of judgement.
All panel members, including the chairperson, undertake to respect a set of responsibilities that are essential to the evaluation process, such as the duties of impartiality, declaration of any potential conflict of interest (CDI) and confidentiality. At all times during the evaluation process, confidentiality is fully protected and ensured in order to guarantee the independence of all opinions produced.
The panel members, including the chairperson, may not be supervisors or co-supervisors of candidates with applications submitted to the evaluation panel.
For each application, the panel will produce a final evaluation form which clearly, coherently and consistently presents the arguments that led to the classifications attributed to each of the evaluation criteria and sub-criteria, as well as explaining any bonuses attributed.
Minutes of the assessment panel meetings will be produced for which all members are responsible.
The minutes and their annexes must include the following information:
- Name and affiliation of all members of the evaluation panel;
- Identification of all applications considered not to be admissible;
- Methodology adopted by the panel for particular cases;
- Final evaluation sheets for each candidate;
- Provisional list of classification and ranking of candidates, in descending order of the final ranking, of all the applications assessed by the panel, with no ties;
- CDI declarations from all panel members;
- Any delegations of votes and competences due to justified absence.

The results of the assessment are communicated via e-mail to the e-mail address used by the candidate to submit the application.

After the provisional list of assessment results has been communicated, candidates have a period of 10 working days in which to make their views known at the prior hearing of interested parties, under the terms of articles 121º et seq. of the Code of Administrative Procedure.
The final decision will be taken after analysing the comments made at the prior hearing of interested parties. A complaint may be lodged against the final decision within 15 working days or, alternatively, an appeal may be lodged within 30 working days, both counted from the date of notification. Candidates who choose to submit a complaint must address their comments to the member of the FCT Board of Directors with delegated powers. Candidates who choose to appeal must address their appeal to the FCT Board of Directors.

Research grant contracts are signed directly with the FCT.
The following documents must be submitted when the grant is awarded for the purposes of contractualisation:
a) Scholarship Holder Form;
b) Ciência ID;
c) Copy of civil identification document(s), tax document(s) (Portuguese) and, where applicable, social security document(s);
d) Copy of the qualification certificates for the academic degrees held;
e) Candidate's curriculum vitae;
f) Presentation of the record of recognition of foreign academic degrees and conversion of the respective final classifications to the Portuguese classification scale, if applicable;
g) Document proving enrolment and registration in one of the Doctoral Programmes identified in this Notice
h) Work plan to be developed;
i) Declaration by the supervisor(s) assuming responsibility for supervising the work plan, under the terms of article 5-A of the Research Fellow Statute (draft declaration to be made available by the FCT);
j) Document proving acceptance of the candidate by the institution where the research activities will take place, guaranteeing the necessary conditions for their proper development, as well as fulfilment of the duties set out in article 13 of the Research Fellow Statute (draft declaration to be made available by the FCT);
k) An up-to-date document proving compliance with the exclusive dedication regime (draft declaration to be made available by the FCT).

The award of the grant is also dependent on:
- fulfilment of the requirements set out in this Call for Proposals;
- the outcome of the scientific evaluation;
- the absence of unjustified non-compliance with the grant holder's duties under a previous grant contract funded directly or indirectly by the FCT;
- FCT budget availability.
Failure to submit any of the documents required to complete the scholarship contractualisation process within 6 months of the date of communication of the decision to award the scholarship conditionally will result in the award lapsing and the process being closed.

Payment of the grants will begin once the candidates have returned the duly signed grant contract, which must occur within a maximum of 15 working days from the date of receipt.
The scholarships awarded under this call will be financed by the FCT with funds from the State Budget and, where eligible, with funds from the European Social Fund, through the Demography, Qualifications and Inclusion Programme (PDQI), in accordance with the regulations established for this purpose.

Scholarship holders are awarded a monthly maintenance allowance in accordance with the table in Annex I of the RBI
The grant may also include other components, under the terms set out in Article 18 of the RBI and for the amounts set out in Annex II.
All grant holders benefit from personal accident insurance for their research activities, paid for by the FCT.
All grant holders who are not covered by any social protection scheme may ensure that they exercise their right to social security by joining the voluntary social insurance scheme, under the terms of the Code of Contributory Schemes of the Social Security System, with the FCT covering the costs resulting from the contributions under the terms and within the limits set out in article 10 of the RBI.

Payments due to the grant holder are made by bank transfer to the account identified by the grant holder. The monthly maintenance allowance is paid on the first working day of each month.
Payments for enrolment, registration or tuition fees are made by the FCT directly to the national institution where the grant holder is enrolled or registered for the doctorate.

Renewal of the scholarship always depends on a request submitted by the scholarship holder within 60 working days prior to the renewal start date, accompanied by the following documents:
a) opinions issued by the supervisor(s) and the host organisation(s) on the monitoring of the grant holder's work and the evaluation of his/her activities;
b) an up-to-date document proving compliance with the exclusive dedication regime;
c) document proving renewal of enrolment in the cycle of studies leading to the doctoral degree.

During the period of the grant, the scholarship holders will be duly accompanied by the LP Science Centre, a Category 2 Centre under the auspices of UNESCO, in full coordination with the Consortium of Schools of Biodiversity and Natural Sciences, which will coordinate additional activities leading to the development of complementary skills, namely through Summer or Winter School, thematic seminars or workshops, etc.
All R&D activities directly or indirectly funded by the grant, namely all communications, publications and scientific creations, as well as theses, carried out with the support provided by the grant, must mention the financial support of the FCT and the European Social Fund, namely through the Northern Regional Operational Programme (NORTE 2020), the Central Regional Operational Programme (Centro 2020) and the Alentejo Regional Operational Programme (Alentejo 2020), as well as the LP Science Centre. For this purpose, the insignia of the FCT, the MCTES, the ESF, the EU and the Ciência LP Centre must be inscribed on the documents relating to these actions, in accordance with the graphic standards of each operational programme.
The dissemination of research results funded under the RBI must comply with the open access rules for data, publications and other research results in force at the FCT.
In the case of all grants, and particularly in the case of actions supported by Community funding, namely the ESF, monitoring and control actions may be carried out by national and Community bodies in accordance with the applicable legislation in this area, with the supported grant holders being obliged to collaborate and provide the information requested, which includes carrying out surveys and evaluation studies in this area, even if the grant has already ended.

The FCT promotes a policy of non-discrimination and equal access, whereby no candidate may be favoured, benefited, disadvantaged or deprived of any right or exempted from any duty on the grounds of ancestry, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, family situation, economic situation, education, social origin or condition, genetic heritage, reduced working capacity, disability, chronic illness, nationality, ethnic origin or race, territory of origin, language, religion, political or ideological convictions and trade union membership.

This Call for Proposals is governed by this Call Notice, by the FCT Research Grant Regulations, approved by Regulation no. 950/2019, published in the II Series of the Official Gazette of 16 December 2019, by the Research Grant Holder Statute approved by Law no. 40/2004, of 18 August, as amended, and by other applicable national and EU legislation.

We recommend that you carefully read the information required to submit applications for the Doctoral Programmes at each of the CEBiCNa schools.
General information on the Admission Scheme.

FCTUC (Coimbra)
FCUP (Porto)
FCUL (Lisboa)
FCT (Açores)
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