The Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (Accreditation to Supervise Research) is the highest degree in the French university system. Created in 1984, it is subject to the Decree of November 23, 1988 and its consolidated version of April 28, 2002 regarding the Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches.

  • Its purpose is to award the HDR to researchers who effectively satisfy the international standards for confirmed and independent researchers.

    The main criterion is therefore that the researcher is able to develop original research autonomously. Candidates must thus be able to demonstrate the autonomy that they have acquired after completing their PhDs which enables them to conduct their own research successfully, particularly:

    • Their post-doc research projects
    • The development of original methodologies in relation to the prior art
    • Scientific advances achieved and their coherence with their research topics
    • Scientific coordination of projects, programs or research groups
    • Any participation in the supervision of Master’s students or young researchers

    Depending on their subject, HDR candidates must demonstrate consistent research activity, usually for a period of about four to 10 years following their PhD dissertation, and a substantial amount of personal scientific publications. Please note that a guarantee from a scientific “advisor/sponsor” or an HDR research director is an advantage but not a requirement.

    In order to assess an HDR application, the university’s Research Committee requires a supporting opinion from a number of parties:

    • Expert committee of the university for the main CNU (National Committee of Universities) section concerned.

    • Director of the candidate’s laboratory or sponsoring laboratory. The latter is required for candidates who are not members of a laboratory that belongs to Université Sorbonne Paris Nord.

    • Select committee of the Faculty (or research committee) to which the laboratory belongs.

  • The candidate’s admission to the HDR must first be approved by the president of the university following the opinion of the select research committee that meets specifically to deliberate the case of HDR candidates. The HDR admission application form must be completed and submitted to the Office for Research and Doctoral Studies (BRED) at least two months before the date when the university’s research committee meets, together with the following documents.

    In order to give its opinion on the authorization to register, the research committee refers to the three supporting opinions described above and the documents presented by the candidate.

    These must include:

    • An exhaustive list of publications and works, including a detailed curriculum vitae that clearly shows the candidate’s activities and publications post-PhD.

    • Depending on the areas of research concerned, a description of the joint supervision of any PhD dissertations, particularly when it is official, or a description of the supervision for interns in the second year of a Master’s degree and research engineers, or more generally, a description of the scientific supervision and framework for persons conducting research activity that will be considered to be of added value for admission to the HDR.

    • A summary of the candidate’s scientific activity that demonstrates his or her experience in the coordination of research work. This document does not have to be in the final version of the HDR report but it must clearly specify the nature of the findings obtained and the research areas developed after the PhD. The nature and format of this document must also take into account the standard practices in the discipline.

    • An application that specifies, in particular, the title of the HDR candidate, the areas of research, the HDR “guarantor/sponsor” if applicable, the proposed members of the jury and advisors and the estimated date of the defense.

    The purpose of this is to ensure that the advisors and the jury are competent in the topic, have an international standing and have no conflict of interest with the candidate. The members of the jury and the advisors must strictly comply with the rules described below.

    The jury is composed of at least five members who hold the HDR or equivalent (full professor in France, a thèse d’état (a second post-PhD dissertation), full professor in a foreign institution, etc.).

    At least half of these members must be full professors or equivalent and the other half must be persons external to Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, whether French or foreign. It also includes at least either two teaching researchers of Université Sorbonne Paris Nord or one teaching researcher and one researcher from a laboratory of Université Sorbonne Paris Nord.

    There must be three or four proposed advisors who must comply with the following rules:

    • At least two must be external to Université Sorbonne Paris Nord and its laboratories.

    • At least two of the advisors who are external to Université Sorbonne Paris Nord and its laboratories must hold the HDR or equivalent.

    • At least two of the external advisors must not belong to the same institution.

    • Advisors must not have collaborated nor co-authored research with the candidate in the past five years. They must also not have been the supervisor or joint-supervisor of the candidate’s PhD dissertation.

    • The proposed jury and advisors can only be changed if a request justifying the reasons for this is submitted to the research committee, particularly if it seems that the rules above have not been adhered to.

    If the research committee is in favor, the vice-president, on behalf of the president, will authorize the candidate’s admission and an e-mail will be sent to the candidate informing him/her of this and that he/she must not register as a student (payment of registration fees to Student Services).

  • At least one month before the scheduled date of the defense, the candidate must give the Office for Research and Doctoral Studies (BRED) the finalized application for the defense and a finalized electronic copy of his/her HDR report, which it will submit to the jury. The advisors will then be contacted by the Office for Research and Doctoral Studies (BRED) to provide their reports. All these documents must be sent to the vice-president, who, after assessing the opinion of the advisors and obtaining the approval of the president, will formally authorize the defense and appoint the jury.

    The jury will meet, listen to the candidate’s defense presentation and discuss the scientific work presented. It will then deliberate in private and make a decision regarding the award of the title of Accreditation to Supervise Research. The president of the jury will draft a report and minutes of the defense, which will then be countersigned by all the members of the jury.

    These documents will be sent to the Office for Research and Doctoral Studies (BRED) as soon as possible so that the certificate of success can be produced. Student Services will be responsible for issuing the degree certificate.

    For additional information:

    President’s Building, ground floor
    Telephone: + 33 1 49 40 30 17 // Fax: +33 1 49 40 38 44