In order to fulfill its mission, the Contact Center has undertaken to present the researchers' concerns to decision-makers. on both the public and the individual levels, at assemblies and through connections with key authorities. The deterrents to the researchers’ return to Israel are their concerns about administrative differences, about Israel's notorious bureaucracy, about lack of transparency in the application process and about not attaining tenure. Their insecurity rises as their time abroad increases. The Contact Center’s efforts to remain in contact with them help prevent their disconnection and provide them with a feeling of security as their return approaches.
To date, over 3,000 researchers have registered with the Academy's Contact Center, some in order to make concrete preparations to return to Israel and others just to remain in contact for the time being. About 75% have PhDs, and most of the others are doctoral students - together amounting to 94.4% of those registered in the database. Around a third are in the life sciences and medicine, a third in the exact sciences and engineering and a third in the humanities and social sciences. They represent the future faculty of Israel's research system!
The Contact Center collects up-to-date information on available positions in the country’s universities, colleges, research institutes and research laboratories and sends it, along with contact details and additional general information, to groups of researchers selected according to their professional fields. If they have not found jobs and are close to their return, the Contact Center assists individuals personally in establishing direct contact with the relevant people in institutions where they hope for employment. In many cases, Academy members who are Israel's most prominent researchers assist the Contact Center in making these contacts. Several times, the Contact Center has located funding to bring candidates for positions to participate actively in scientific conferences in Israel, providing them with professional exposure and the opportunity to network and to interview for faculty positions.
Some return to part-time or temporary positions or to second or third postdoctoral positions. For them, and even for those who attain tenure-track positions, the Contact Center becomes their safety net, and many take advantage of the assistance it provides until they attain tenure. Afterwards, some of them approach the Contact Center for assistance in staffing their new labs. They change sides and become "Contact People" representing their new departments!
As a project of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Contact Center enjoys several unique advantages:
- The Academy, as a neutral entity, views the country’s universities and educational institutions from a broad, national perspective;
- The Academy operates on behalf of the researchers, without institutional preference;
- The educational institutions trust the Academy’s help in acquiring faculty;
- Israel’s most distinguished scholars are accessible to the Center for consultation;
- The Academy’s small size enables it to protect the privacy of those registered in its database;