Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R)

Offering researchers an excellent working environment - this is an important concern of the German Sport University Cologne. This is why the university has decided to participate in the European Commission's HR Excellence in Research process in 2021.

Those who successfully complete this certification process will receive the "HR Excellence in Research" award (HRS4R), provided that the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers has been successfully implemented and realised. Participation is linked to the signing of the "European Charter for Researchers" and the "Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers". Scientific organisations voluntarily undertake to comply with and implement the guidelines contained therein.

In spring 2023, the German Sport University Cologne was honoured with the 'HR Excellence in Research Award' on the basis of its application submitted in December 2022. As an internationally oriented research university it has thus proven that it offers its academics from Germany and abroad an excellent working environment.

Over 600 scientific organisations worldwide are already participating in the HRS4R process. However, the presentation of the HR Excellence in Research Award does not mark the end of this process. Rather, this is the starting signal for further regular reviews, optimisations and expansions of the associated measures (see project phases). They are intended to continuously improve the working conditions of researchers from all nations at the German Sport University Cologne and thus consistently develop the working conditions in the scientific professional field.

At the same time, this process offers the German Sport University Cologne the opportunity to position itself even better in the international competition for highly qualified researchers. In addition, all employees at our university will benefit from synergies in the university's internal cooperation: for example, a common strategic basis will provide new impetus with regard to further training and advisory opportunities, management development and the standardisation of recruitment processes.

Subject areas
  1. Ethical and professional aspects, e.g. freedom of research, responsibility and attitude in research professions, contractual obligations, good scientific practice, utilisation of research results, evaluation and equality
  2. Recruitment procedures and recruitment, e.g. transparency and performance orientation of recruitment procedures, recognition of qualifications, mobility phases and stages in the CV that deviate from a traditional scientific career path
  3. Working conditions and social security, e.g. stability and financial security of employment relationships, teaching and participation
  4. Career and further education, e.g. academic supervision, opportunities for professional development


Project phases

The following process phases are planned in the HRS4R process:

  • Phase 1: Carrying out an internal gap analysis; this serves to determine the current status and at the same time identify areas for improvement and gaps -> Completed
  • Phase 2: Development and publication of an institution-specific action plan based on the gap analysis; specific measures are listed, prioritised and provided with a timetable -> Completed
  • Phase 3: Recognition of the report by the EU Commission and approval of user rights for the "HR Excellence in Research" logo -> Completed
  • Phase 4: Internal review after two years (interim assessment) Phase 5: External evaluation after a further three years by the European Commission (on-site assessment)

The German Sport University Cologne initiated the implementation process in December 2021. The first two phases were completed in 2022, the third phase in May 2023 (receipt of the award). The German Sport University Cologne is currently in the implementation phase, in which the formulated actions are realised and implemented. This will be followed in spring 2025 by an assessment by the European Commission, the so-called Interim Assessment, in which the current implementation status and progress will be reviewed.



OTM-R refers to an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment process that ranges from information about vacancies and the selection process to prospective career and further development opportunities at an institution. In addition, OTM-R stands for fair selection processes and equal opportunities, in which suitability, aptitude and performance are the decisive criteria.

A procedure that complies with the OTM-R recommendations is characterised by the fact that

  • external, national and international researchers are encouraged to submit an application
  • potential applicants receive all relevant information about the advertised position, such as job requirements or career opportunities
  • the administrative effort for applicants is kept to a minimum, for example through an e-recruiting tool
  • the selection criteria cover a broad spectrum and meet the requirements of the position
  • the employer communicates transparently and openly with applicants.

The German Sport University Cologne is committed to the OTM-R basic principles. As part of the HRS4R process, they are to be taken into account in all steps of the recruitment process. By implementing an OTM-R system, recruitment processes - both appointment procedures for professorships and positions for academic staff and teaching staff - are quality-assured at the German Sport University.

As a first step, the existing recruitment process is currently being reviewed with regard to OTM-R criteria and an OTM-R policy is being developed on this basis. A key focus of the implementation process is the implementation of an application management system (e-recruiting tool), which reduces the administrative hurdles for applicants and simplifies the process overall.

HRS4R news

HRS4R news


Publication fund for PhD candidates

A publication fund for doctoral students has been set up to support early career researchers in their doctoral studies (Action #9). Further information can be found here.


The German Sport University Cologne has signed the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA) and is a founding member of the National Chapter. As part of CoARA, reforms in the assessment of research performance are to be promoted in order to take more qualitative and less quantitative performance into account (Principle #11).

Coaching programme for managers

Following successful piloting in 2024, DSHS will offer professional business coaching as part of leadership development for professors and managers in academia. As a service provider and cooperation partner, we work together with the market leader CoachHub and its platform and academy (Action #3).

Revised European Charter for Researchers adopted

The European Charter for Researchers, which was drawn up in 2005, has been extensively revised and has now been adopted and published by the European Council. Further information here and here.

Introductory seminar "Women lead differently"

As part of a management seminar, female scientists from the DSHS and employees from technology and administration with management tasks were able to train and network in a two-day workshop (Action #3 and #17).



DSHS as best practice

The university's HRS4R application documents were rated as excellent. The DSHS project group was therefore able to present its experiences as an example of best practice at the HRS4R Info Day in Brussels. Further information here.

Foundation of an Open Access Working Group

The Open Access Working Group of the German Sport University was founded in February 2023 and is intended to advise decision-makers at the university on Open Access and discuss current topics and strategies relating to the topic (Action #9).

HRS4R in Zeitlupe

The Zeitlupe issue 2.2023 reports on the HRS4R process at the German Sport University Cologne.

ORCID membership

The German Sport University is now a member of the ORCID consortium which makes it much easier for scientists to assign and identify their own institution in the context of publication processes or third-party funding applications (Action #9).

HRS4R in Zeitlupe

The Zeitlupe issue 2.2023 reports on the HRS4R process at the German Sport University Cologne.

ORCID membership

The German Sport University is now a member of the ORCID consortium which makes it much easier for scientists to assign and identify their own institution in the context of publication processes or third-party funding applications (Action #9).

Adoption of a publication guideline

The publication guideline of the German Sport University Cologne lists simple but effective measures to fulfil these common goals of the authors and their university. Like the ORCID ID it facilitates the publication process (Action #9).

Signing of declaration against abuse of power

Together with all other NRW universities, the German Sport University Cologne has signed a declaration in favour of respectful and appreciative interaction and against abuse of power at universities (Principle #10).

Receipt of the HRS4R Award

Following a positive evaluation of the application documents, DSHS was honoured with the HRS4R Award "HR Excellence in Research".



Submission of HRS4R application documents

The German Sport University Cologne has submitted the application documents for the HR Excellence in Research Award on time.

HRS4R in"Kurier"

A short report on the HRS4R process at the German Sport University Cologne has been published in " Kurier ".

Project group & contact

Project group & contact

A team commissioned by the Rectorate continuously accompanies the HRS4R process (in particular the implementation of the gap analysis and the development of the resulting action plan) in accordance with EU guidelines. The Rectorate of the German Sport University Cologne is responsible for this certification process and takes the role of a steering committee; UK research is particularly involved as a representative community of researchers; other committees and stakeholders of the university are also involved in various steps to ensure a high level of participation and acceptance by university members.

HRS4R team:

Moritz Gamon, Department 2, HRS4R Coordinator, Head of Human Resources Development Department

Dr Birte Ahrens, Research Officer, Department of Research and Junior Academics

Birte Ebbinghaus, LL.M., Personal Assistant to the Rector

Contact: HRS4R@­