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Monitoring survey of Highly Qualified R&D Personnel: competency patterns of researchers and engineers

The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research:

The study is related to the development of the Science, Technology and Innovation human resources structure and their interaction with R&Dlabor market in Russia.

The project aims to develop the conceptual framework and methodology of research and engineering competencies analysis; to estimate the need and the sufficiency of researchers’ and engineers’ competencies for the work on the prior science and technology directions in Russia; to revelthe representations of highly qualified R&D personnel about future development of their professional sphere and their personal career plans.


The survey is based on the results of the study on doctorate holders. The collected data allowed analyzing the main social, economic, and demographic properties of the group. The study is a part of a large-scale comparative international project: «Careers of Doctorate Holders» (CDH).

Generic statistical sources on human resources, such as censuses and labour force surveys, are not fit to provide a full picture of the employment patterns and the contribution of doctorate holders. It is with this in mind that the OECD launched in 2004 a collaborative project with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and Eurostat aimed at addressing evidence gaps on this population and developing internationally comparable indicators on the labour market, career path and mobility of doctorate holders.

Statistics on careers of doctorate holders are compiled with a view to measure:

  • Indicators of employment (status, type of contract, employment sphere, secondary employment, average salary etc.)
  • Researchers and Engineers skills and their connection with employment type
  • Education indicators (country and organization where diplomas of education was received, number of years of working on dissertation, field of science, specialization, etc.)
  • Directions and intensity of professional mobility (job change experience, intra-sectional and inter-sectional mobility, international mobility, departure and residence countries, etc.)
  • Motivations of research career choice.

Empirical basis of research

The analysis is based on the results of survey of R&D personnel, researchers and engineers who works in research units, universities, research institutes, engineering organizations, industries, medical centers and hospitals.

The multistep stratified sampling was used with quotas under the following parameters: gender, age, field of science, employment sector and geographical area. The nationally representative sample was clustered within eight Russian Federal districts and stratified by the number of PhD graduates in each district. The sample size is 1880 respondents.

The collected data was analyzed by: 1 – organization type where respondents are employed, 2 – scientific and technological direction, 3 – gender and age, 4 – academic degree, 5 – mobility degree.

Results of research:

The study allowed to define positions of highly qualified R&D workers in the system of innovation and economics of knowledge and to estimate the role of their competencies in the sphere of research and development for the education and science, to analyze the main employment tendencies, professional and social mobility of researchers and engineers on labor market.

  • The study suggests that understanding the skills of researchers perceived and needed is one element of innovation culture. Thereby the skills in discussion go beyond purely academic skills, instead it’s proposed that skills which increase the absorptive capacity of companies are crucial for implementing effective, targeted and productive innovation management.
  • Doctoral studies, namely doctoral theses are highly specialized activities that elaborate on narrowly defined topics. Doctoral graduates at their early career stages possess sophisticated but specialized knowledge which allows understanding of more general phenomena and challenges only partially. In this regard doctorates are capable of dedicated niche work but may lack understanding of complementary knowledge and technology fields. At the same time knowledge-based companies and organizations increasingly require talent competent in researching, analyzing and synthesizing new knowledge which goes beyond the individuals’ actual education.
  • As long as there is a substantial demand for the respective qualification the individual ‘take away’ researcher possesses it might be easy for them to enter new career paths in different environments. However this is true only in theory, realty shows that researchers meet at events and communicate increasingly in social networks and media. Thus the reputation of individuals will suffer in the long term. For organizations it’s therefore challenging to align the internal evaluation and assessment procedures accordingly.

The final report includes:

  • Methodology and tools of fieldwork, including the description of population and sample calculation for the survey of highly qualified R&D personnel;
  • Overview of international and Russian researches about careers of R&D personnel, the analysis of research agenda and main challenges on the labor market for PhD holders;
  • Overview of the social media contents, the analysis of messages about career choice by the graduates of Graduate Schools, PhD holders;
  • Analysis of scientific publications and research results about highly qualified R&D personnel labor market mobility, including geographical and intersectional professional mobility of Russian R&D personnel;
  • Conceptualization and analytical framework for construction of «image of future» and representations about personal and professional development of researchers and engineers;
  • Development of conceptual framework and methodology of estimation of researchers and engineers competencies in the main science and technology areas;
  • Definition of features of engineering competencies in the main science and technology areas, assessment of researchers and engineers competencies for the work on STI priority areas in Russia;
  • Analysis of researchers and engineers motivation system;
  • Output tables with the main results.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

This analysis showcases the potential of collected data to inform policy questions, notably through the use of micro-data based econometric methods. Results of the survey may be used to elaborate public policies in the field of employment and careers of the highly qualified R&D personnel. The working papers are also used in monographs and articles addressing human resources of R&D sector in Russia.


Meissner D., Gokhberg L., Shmatko N. A. The Meaning of Doctorate Holders for Human Capital Development of Nations, in: The Science and Technology Labor Force: The Value of Doctorate Holders and Development of Professional Careers / Ed. by L. Gokhberg, N. A. Shmatko, L. Auriol. Dordrecht : Springer, 2016. doi P. 343-350. doi
Шматко Н. А. Роль научной мобильности ученых и кооперации в научно-технической и инновационной сфере // В кн.: XVI Апрельская международная научная конференция по проблемам развития экономики и общества: в 4 кн. / Отв. ред.: Е. Г. Ясин. Кн. 3. М. : Издательский дом НИУ ВШЭ, 2016. С. 641-651.
Katchanov Y. L., Markova Y., Natalia A. Shmatko. How physics works: scientific capital in the space of physics institutions // Scientometrics. 2016. Vol. 108. No. 2. P. 875-893. doi
Shmatko N. A. PhDs Within and Outside of the National Labor Market // Higher Education in Russia and Beyond. 2016. Vol. 9. No. 3 (9). P. 9-11.
Shmatko N. A., Katchanov Y. L. Professional Careers and Mobility of Russian Doctorate Holders, in: The Science and Technology Labor Force: The Value of Doctorate Holders and Development of Professional Careers / Ed. by L. Gokhberg, N. A. Shmatko, L. Auriol. Dordrecht : Springer, 2016. doi P. 145-170. doi