how to become a university professor in Italy – a one page guide
From the summer of 2012 onwards, to enter academic positions of Associate
Professor (Professore di Seconda Fascia)
or Full Professor (Professore di Prima
Fascia – Ordinario) in Italy it will be necessary to obtain first an
official qualification, which is called “abilitazione”.
This abilitazione can be obtained
after applying to official calls (concorsi
nazionali) which will be issued annually by the Ministry of Education and
University (MIUR) for various scientific fields (raggruppamenti concorsuali). The candidates will be examined
nationally by committees of Full Professors who will be selected on the basis
of proven experience and status in each scientific field.
The criteria for the evaluation of the candidates
essentially correspond to those recognized internationally for senior academic
positions: success in research funding, presence in the editorial boards of
specialized journals, membership of academic bodies, scientific awards, involvement
in the evaluation of grants and fellowships, management of groups and
institutes, and so on.
However, the criteria become quantitatively stringent in regard
to the scientific output of the candidates. For all the areas of natural and
biomedical sciences and large parts of engineering, these criteria require that
a candidate’s production exceeds the median
value of at least two of the
Number of articles published in the previous 10
years since the date of the call;
Number of citations normalized to the number
of years of active research*;
H-index normalized to the number of years of active
*The number of years of active research corresponds
to the so-called academic age, which
will be evaluated from the year of the first publication of any candidate,
taking into consideration eventual career breaks.
Let’s take as an example a relatively senior scientist who
started publishing in 1982 without career interruptions, hence with an academic
age of 30, who has obtained the
following bibliometric profile to date:
30 publications in the last 10 years;
a total of 3000 citations – hence a normalized citation count per age =
an overall H-index of 30 – hence a normalized H-index per age = 1.
This scientist could exceed the median values of:
all 3 indicators for the Associate Professors of
most, if not all Raggruppamenti concorsuali
at least 2 indicators for the Full Professors of
the majority of Raggruppamenti
Consequently, this scientist can be considered a successful
candidate for the abilitazione at
either Associate or (in most cases£) Full professor in the
pertinent field of expertise - encompassed in a given raggruppamento concorsuale – provided that additional criteria are
met, as evaluated by the national committees.
Once potential candidates have verified that they meet the
criteria of scientific production as above, they can apply to one of the Raggruppamenti concorsuali , submitting
a maximum of 12 (for Associate
Professors) or 20 (for Full
Professors) of their (presumably best) publications along their CV, as
specified in MIUR calls that will be published.
In practice, the median values of the indicators a), b) and
c) for all Raggruppamenti concorsuali will be calculated and made public by the
agency ANVUR concomitantly or prior to the release of the public calls by
MIUR. So, all persons interested may verify
whether they meet the selection criteria for the publication output before
deciding to apply for the abilitazione
in a given sector.
Those who eventually obtain the abilitazione will then be able to apply to professorial positions
that Italian universities will advertise to fill their academic ranks, using
local selection committees. But that’s another game!
£Except for certain areas of Medicine,
e.g. Haematology and Endocrinology, in which Italy has high international