The research staff of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System (SECTI) includes researchers, technical staff and management, administration and service staff related to research, development, knowledge transfer and innovation.
The Basic Statute of Public Employees establishes special rules for research staff with a view to adapting this statute to the specific characteristics of research staff. Accordingly, Law 14/2011, of 1 June, on Science, Technology and Innovation (LCTI) includes a specific section (Section 2) regulating human resources dedicated to research, which is supplemented by the first and other related additional provisions.
Under the LCTI, research staff refers to individuals who hold the required qualifications and are engaged in research activities, defined as carrying out creative work systematically to increase the volume of knowledge, using such knowledge to create new applications, and transferring and disseminating such knowledge.
The European Research Career Framework (2011) outlines four researcher profiles, which are independent of any particular sector:
- R1 (First-stage researcher)
- R2 (Recognised researcher)
- R3 (Established researcher)
- R4 (Principal Investigator)
Research staff working for public universities, public research bodies and research bodies of other public administrations may be linked to the host organisation as follows:
- Non-civil service staff—who may be permanent or hired under the employment contracts set out in the LCTI (permanent contracts, predoctoral, access contracts for doctoral research staff, and distinguished researcher contracts) or other employment contracts under the Workers' Statute and, in the case of university teaching and research staff, under the employment contracts of Organic Law 2/2023, of 22 March, on the University System.
- Civil servant staff—from the categories of Senior Research Scientists, Research Scientists and Research Professors of Public Research Bodies, from the university teaching bodies (University Professors and Lecturers), or from the bodies and categories created by the Spanish Autonomous Communities, among others.
Private entities and other public entities may also employ the employment contracts established in the LCTI, provided that they meet the requirements set out in the first additional provision of the LCTI.
The public employment offer, which is approved annually, covers the positions of civil servant research staff and permanent research staff of public administrations.
The selection criteria for research staff are based on the constitutional principles of equality, merit and ability, the advertising of calls for applications and the associated terms and conditions, the transparency, impartiality, professionalism, independence and technical discretion of the selection bodies, the suitability of the content of the selection processes for the functions or tasks to be undertaken, and the efficiency of the selection processes, without compromising objectivity.
Law 17/2022 of 5 September, modifying the LCTI, created a new scientific pathway in the public sector aimed at stability:
- It redefines the access contract to the system by substituting it with a new access contract for doctoral research staff.
- It creates a new open-ended contract for research lines or scientific and technical services.
- It envisages the incorporation of statutory research staff into the National Health System.
- It establishes measures for capturing foreign talent and promoting the return of Spanish personnel.
- It redefines the distinguished researcher contract with a view to attracting prestigious scientific and technical personnel
- with regard to equality, it proposes a dual approach based on 1) adopting specific measures to achieve effective equality between women and men in R&D&I and 2) placing gender equality at the core of all public planning mechanisms.