Research funding opportunities in Spain

Working in Europe | Research funding opportunities | Spain

The objective of the Science, Technology and Innovation Act is to make the career of researcher attractive nationally and internationally, but so that it develops on the basis of respect for the constitutional principles of equality, merit and skill.

The Act stipulates three types of contracts that can be used by the State Research Centres attached to the Central Government, other Regional Government Research Bodies and also state universities when they receive funds the purposes of which include recruiting researchers. These researcher-specific employment contracts are:

a)    predoctoral contract;

b)    Contract for access to the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System;

c)    distinguished researcher contract.



Predoctoral contract

Predoctoral employment contracts are signed in accordance with the following requirements:

a) The contract is for research work as part of specific, original projects undertaken by degree-holders, engineers, architects, recent university graduates with at least 300 credits (European Credit Transfer System – ECTS), a university masters degree or equivalent who have been accepted onto a PhD course. They will receive the title of predoctoral research trainees.

b) The contract will be signed in writing by the predoctoral research trainee, as the employee, and the public university or research centre leading the research group, as the employer, and must be accompanied by the written acceptance of the former onto the PhD programme issued by the department responsible for the programme or by the PhD or postgraduate school if applicable.

c) The contract will have a specific duration and will be full-time.

The contract will be for one year, but can be extended for one year annually following a favourable report from the academic committee of the PhD course, or the PhD school if applicable, while on the programme. Under no circumstances may the initial contract and extensions exceed a total of four years.

d) The compensation for this contract must be no less than 56% of the salary set for equivalent categories by the collective bargaining agreements in the field during the first two years, no less than 60% in the third year and no less than 75% in the fourth. Compensation must never be less than the national minimum wage[1] set each year.

[1]The Salario Mínimo Interprofesional (SMI) sets the minimum wage to be received by workers for a legal day of work, regardless of worker gender or age or whether they are have permanent, temporary or seasonal contracts. The value of the SMI is set out in law each year by the Government. More information at:{available in official languages, English and French}


Contract for access to the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System 

Interior del Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas, CNIO. Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa

Interior of the National Cancer Research Centre, CNIO.

Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence

This contract was designed in the mould of the ‘tenure track’ used in other countries. Contracts for access to the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System are signed in accordance with the following requirements:

a) These contracts can only be offered to holders of a PhD or equivalent.

b) The work to be undertaken will primarily consist of research activity with the intention of helping researchers achieve a high level of professional perfection and specialisation to consolidate their professional experience.

c) The contract must have a duration of more than one year, but not exceed five years. When the duration of a contract is less than five years, it may be extended subsequently. Such extensions must not have a duration of less than one year under any circumstances.

No employee can be offered a contract of this type, in the same organisation or any other, for a period of time in excess of five years.

d) The remuneration for this contract must be no less than that of a researcher who carries out the same activity.

e) Researchers who are recruited subject to this type of contract can complement their work with teaching activities related to the proposed research activity up to a maximum of 80 hours a year.

From completion of the second year of the contract onwards, researchers with a contract of this type will be able to request an evaluation of their research activity. Evaluations will take into account criteria of excellence, will be performed in accordance with the regulations of the university or employer and will include an external report that will be binding if negative and will be written by:

  • in the case of researchers contracted by state universities, the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA)[2] or an equivalent external organisation in each Autonomous Region;
  • in the case of researchers contracted by Public Research Centres, the National Evaluation and Foresight Agency (ANEP) or an equivalent organisation determined within the National Research Agency, or an organisation equivalent to the ANEP in Autonomous Regions if the employer is accountable to them.

The selection processes for permanent staff announced by government bodies will consider favourable evaluations received during the course of a contract for access to the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation system as research merits.

In the case of a negative evaluation, researchers may request a second and final evaluation of their research activity before the contract or its extensions end.

[2]Website{available in Spanish and English}


Distinguished researcher contract

Spanish andforeign researchers of renowned prestige in the scientific and technical field who hold PhDs or equivalent can be recruited under distinguished researcher contracts, in accordance with the following criteria:

a) The objective of the contract is research activity or team leading, directing research centres, unique scientific and technological facilities and programmes of great importance in the field of knowledge, in accordance with the functions and objectives of the employer.

b) The duration of the contract will be determined by mutual agreement.

c) Researchers offered this type of contract may not sign other employment contracts with other organisation, unless they have received express permission from the employer or a written agreement otherwise and without disregarding the regulations.

d)  Compliance of the contract will be subject to an objective monitoring system the employer will establish.

e) The contract may be terminated due to abandonment on behalf of the employer, notifying the decision in writing with three months’ notice, notwithstanding the possibility of the employer cancelling the contract for just causes.


Consolidating a career in research 

The consolidation of a career in research, implying a sequenced series of promotion opportunities and prospects for professional advancement, in accordance with the principles of transparency, equality, merit and skill, is achieved in public institutions (universities and research centres) by gaining access to the civil services linked to research. Public employment is open to Spanish researchers, foreign researchers legally residing in Spain and also foreigners under the umbrella of International Treaties signed by the European Union and ratified by Spain that permit the free movement of workers.

Public employment as regards a career as a researcher working for Public Research Centres that report to the Central Government is divided into the following scientific categories which will have full research authority:

a)  Research Lecturers of Public Research Centres.

b)  Scientific Researchers of Public Research Centres.

c)  Head Scientists of Public Research Centres.

Public university lecturers employed by the Government will belong to the following categories and will have full teaching and research authority:

a)  University Professors.

b)  University Senior Lecturers


Additional information relative to the Spanish R&D system and recruitment opportunities for researchers can be found in: 

Recruitment opportunities in Spain (710.47 KB) March 2016

- Researchers career path, Publication date: September 2016