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Research Funding FAQs

By Julia Becker

Frequently asked questions about research funding

FAQ Research Funding© rrocio - iStockphoto.com

Are the funding rates the same for all foundations?

No. For PhD scholarships the monthly amount is usually fixed at €1,050 plus individual research amounts. There are, however, scholarships which are worth more or less than this. Beyond the PhD there is no uniform rate and the basic monthly amount varies.

Is there an age limit for applicants?

Yes, there are often set age limits for applicants for PhD scholarships, usually between 27 and 35 years of age. In the case of scholarships for researchers who already hold doctorates, there are rarely age limits but there is a limit on the maximum number of years an applicant may have held a doctorate. There are no such restrictions for professors or those who have completed their habilitation and are eligible to become full professors.

Can I apply for more than one scholarship at the same time?

This is a delicate subject as many funding bodies have a shared pool of data which they all access. This means that if you apply to one funding body, your details are stored in the database and any other bodies to which you apply will be able to see that you are, in effect, hedging your bets. In such cases you are nearly always out of the running for both applications. Having said that, it is not clear which funding bodies are linked in this way and what the likelihood is of a double application being discovered. As a general rule, however, it's best to avoid making simultaneous applications.

Do I need to have delivered outstanding performance in order to receive a scholarship?

In most cases, yes. However, when filling out your application, do not underestimate the significance of the detailed concept for the research project. Any weaknesses in grades achieved during your studies can be balanced with an outstanding and innovative research concept. There are also a number of special scholarships which are aimed at research scientists in financial difficulties. In such cases, grades play a role albeit a less important one than for scholarships for the gifted.

Can I apply to German scholarship programmes as a foreign researcher?

Quite often, yes, because sponsors want to promote an international research environment in Germany. One prerequisite, however, for foreign scholars in Germany is that they should already have spent some time in Germany prior to applying. For more detailed information about who can apply for which scholarship programme please consult the relevant programme descriptions. There are also a number of other sponsors who specialise in funding foreign scholars in Germany such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) or the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. A list of relevant funding organisations, funding programmes and funding databases can be found here: www.research-in-germany.de.

Are there intermediate evaluations by sponsors?

In some cases, yes. The intermediate evaluation normally serves as a way of assessing previous research work and to help decide whether the scholarship should run for its full duration.

After the scholarship, do I need to write a report on my research activities?

Yes, in virtually all cases this is compulsory. In cases where you do not need to write a report, sponsors will expect you to publish at least one relevant publication based on the research results. A final report is used to check whether the research funding which was granted was used sensibly and provides evidence to the sponsor of your activities. Some funding bodies may even request an annual research report.