Portugal National Experiences

Published: 08/03/2011 | Modified: 08/04/2014, 2:20 pm

Contact details of the institution hosting the BHO


Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT)

Av. D. Carlos I, 126; P-1249-074 Lisbon
Phone: +351 21 392 44 46
Mail: anamargarida.santos@fct.mctes.pt
URL website: alfa.fct.mctes.pt
URL national EURAXESS portal: www.euraxess.pt

Bridgehead Organisation

The BHO is hosted by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the funding organisation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education. Its mission consists of promoting the advancement of science and technology in Portugal.

EURAXESS Services Centres

There are eight ESCs, all of which are located in universities throughout the country.

Local Contact Points

There are seven LoCPs. Most of them are also located in universities, except for two—one hosted by the Portuguese Innovation Agency (Agência de Inovação), and the other by the Gulbenkian Science Institute (Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência).

Structure of the national network

The time devoted to EURAXESS depends on the workload and the allocated persons/month vary accordingly. In most ESCs and LoCPs, there are one to two people working on EURAXESS. The average time they spend on EURAXESS activities is 20% of their working hours.

The number of foreign researchers also varies considerably depending on each institution.

  • Full-time equivalent staff:
  • Number of persons:
  • BHO: 1
  • BHO: 2
  • ESC: varies
  • ESC: varies
  • LoCP: varies
  • LoCP: varies

Declaration of Commitment (DoC)

All institutions in the network have signed the DoC.

National funding of the EURAXESS Services Network

Funding of the Portuguese EURAXESS Services Network relies on the hosts themselves, i.e. the universities.

Target groups of the Bridgehead Organisation

  • ministries
  • national authorities
  • EURAXESS Services Network and researchers

Target groups of the EURAXESS Services Centres

  • regional authorities
  • incoming and outgoing researchers and their families

Target groups of the Local Contact Points

  • regional authorities
  • incoming and outgoing researchers and their families

Relationship and communication between the BHO, the Steering Group for Human Resources and Mobility for Researchers (SG HRM), the National Contact Points (NCPs) and the Programme Committee

There is an overlap in roles: the BHO is also the NCP and the expert of the programme and works at the Ministry of Science and Technology. The National Delegate works in a research institution.

1. The Researchers in Motion day at the University of Coimbra

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:43 pm

On 2 October 2009, the University of Coimbra promoted an event aimed at bringing our foreign researchers together.

During the meeting, researchers had the opportunity to hear about the EURAXESS network of services centres and about the Marie Curie Actions. However, the main purpose of the event was to give them a chance to meet other researchers and exchange experiences.

The feedback from researchers was very encouraging.

2. Visa trouble

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:43 pm

What can we do when the national authorities in charge of issuing visas demand the physical presence of researchers who are still in their home countries?

We were faced with the case of an Indian researcher who had been awarded a FCT grant to attend the University of Coimbra for her postdoctoral studies.

To issue a visa, the Portuguese Consulate in India requested several documents, including proof of residence and medical insurance. However, since she was not in Portugal yet, it was impossible for her to have these documents. On the one hand, she could not seek accommodation before her arrival; on the other hand, her FCT grant covered insurance (the Seguro Social Voluntário) but could only be requested at the Portuguese social security offices so, again, she could not apply for that document until she had entered the country. In addition, in order to request this insurance, she was required to present her Portuguese tax identification number (which she could not have requested since she was still in India), as was the case of her proof of residence in Portugal, her medical statement, and her FCT contract.

The researcher contacted the Chemistry Department of the University of Coimbra informing her tutor about this situation and it was her tutor who asked the post-graduation ESC of the University of Coimbra to take care of what appeared to be an unsolvable problem.

Without our help, the researcher could not have obtained the insurance required for issuing a visa, which in turn would have meant that she could not have left her country of origin.

As soon as we became aware of the situation, we provided the researcher with a letter stating that her official address in Portugal would be the address of the International Relations Unit.

In terms of the insurance, since it was mandatory to submit a tax identification number to apply, the first step was for someone from the ESC to go, in person, to the Finance Services and request a NIF (tax ID number) for the researcher. Social security was also requested on behalf of the researcher at the Portuguese social security services.

3. We support the researcher

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:43 pm

The task of this LoCP is to support the researchers coming to University of the Algarve, offering them support on issues such as opening a bank account, obtaining a visa or social security, or anything else researchers might need when they move to another country.

When researchers arrive at the office, we offer a package with important information about visas and residence permits, social protection for scientific researchers (i.e. the Voluntary Social Insurance Scheme), information about living in Portugal and in the region, a map of the city, and important contacts. We also contact the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) immediately to schedule an appointment for visa renewal.

1. Optimizing the website structure

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:39 pm

We are considering the use of card sorting, a commonly used technique when you are developing an information structure for a given website. It is helpful when you want to organize content and, for example, build a navigation system that makes the most sense for your users. In a card sorting exercise, participants who are hopefully representative of your target users are given items (such as topics) on paper cards and asked to sort them into groups that are meaningful to them. The groups can be categories already defined by your project team (closed sort) or chosen by the users as part of the sorting exercise (open sort).

The objective is to look out for common patterns and areas prone to confusion, which are bound to emerge in the sessions and in the results analysis. These patterns and ambiguities are a very useful resource and provide important information for fine-tuning your project information architecture and building a definitive taxonomy.

Remember that is important to use “natural language”, clear and objective terminology, and avoid buzzwords, technical jargon or ambiguous terms.

Additional information and resources:

2. Make your information available to all!

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:40 pm


As the EURAXESS network is a European initiative supported by many countries and their public organisations, the information available through the national portals in the network should be available to all researchers, including those with disabilities (visual, auditory, motor/physical or cognitive). One of our future aims at the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, the Portuguese EURAXESS BHO, is to achieve these goals.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and other organisations have developed web accessibility initiatives, guidelines and techniques for helping organisations and their technical teams (developers, designers, content producers, etc.) make the web more accessible and provide equal opportunities and universal access to information. These initiatives are usually supported by specific legislation.

Providing a more accessible portal will, among other things, increase our potential audience, meet current and future legal requirements and support a more semantic web. Fortunately, there is a wide range of documentation and tools for developing and evaluating web accessibility.

Guidelines and additional information:

Tools for accessibility evaluation:


3. Cheap and easy usability testing through heuristic evaluation

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:39 pm

As one of the best-known usability experts, Jakob Nielsen, put it, “Heuristic evaluation is the most popular of the usability inspection methods”. Heuristic evaluation is another one of our future aims at the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia/EURAXESS Portugal. It basically involves testing a website user interface against a set of well-established rules, guidelines or principles (heuristics) that tend to make the applications or websites more usable. It is a systematic inspection of a user interface design for usability.

The number of heuristics really depends on the scope of each project, available resources and expertise of the professional(s) that conduct the evaluation. Usually it is conducted by a usability expert, a user experience designer or an HCI expert, but it can be done by one of your team members. Actually, a HE done with multiple evaluators—usually three to five—tends to be more effective. Different evaluators tend to identify different problems.

The lovely part is that it is a really cheap and easy way to find problems that affect the overall user experience, and it is particularly useful if you do not have easy access to your users.

Additional information:
www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/i.connell/DocsPDF/PrinciplesSet.pdf (inverted PDF)

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