Demonstrating scientific independence
Last week, I had a (long) discussion with French colleagues about the most relevant way to show scientific independence. The issue in France is that as young researchers (age typically < 40), we are NOT intended to run our own group, but have to be integrated into a (larger) group lead by a so-called "class A" researcher (understand full professor or CNRS director). Leading his/her own young research group is not the point in France, contrarily to colleagues in UK, Germany or Spain.
The crazyness of this situation is that all young researcher I know are performing their research independently on their senior group leader. All this looks like mostly an obscure French administrative issue: young researchers can be scientifically autonomous within a group, but not fully administratively autonomous.
So, how to demonstrate independence? This can be a real issue in fierce funding competition at European level. The best answer I can provide is to go back to the scientific output, ie peer-reviewed papers, and check for corresponding authors and last authors. For my own case, here is the kind of graph to show my transition to independence:
Data are in % of total articles per year (for 2011 it also includes submitted and in press manuscripts). Of course, this does not constitute the sole evaluation criterion, yet combined with publications list and brief scientific achievements description, I think it can provide a fair overview.