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Guided by the principles defined by the General Assembly, the Senate advises and decides on all important affairs of the DFG which do not fall within the remit of the Joint Committee. It is therefore responsible for all important decisions relating to research funding prior to the final funding decision and for all important decisions relating to organising the review, assessment and decision-making processes. The Senate decides which review boards should be formed and how they should be structured.

The Senate has 39 members from the scientific and academic communities. The President of the German Rectors' Conference, the President of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities and the President of the Max Planck Society are members of the Senate by right of office. The remaining 36 members are elected for four years on a rolling basis by the General Assembly. Researchers employed by higher education institutions or other research institutions are eligible for election. The Presidents of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft as well as the Chair of the German Council of Science and Humanities are permanent guests of the Senate.

Committees of the Senate

The Senate Committees for Collaborative Research Centres and Research Training Groups prepare the funding decisions of the two corresponding Grants Committees as subcommittees of the Joint Committee. In addition, they are responsible for the further development of these funding programmes and for their review and decision-making processes.

The Ad hoc Review Committee on Membership Applications is a working committee of the Senate that prepares the decisions of the Senate.

Senate Commissions

The Senate Commissions support the DFG with policy advice by, for instance, preparing statements on research-related issues that are relevant to society according to purely scientific standards. Furthermore, they are an important part of academic self-governance as they, for example, address questions with special coordination requirements for specific research disciplines.

The Senate Commissions are divided into two categories:

Permanent Senate Commissions

The Senate can establish Permanent Senate Commissions whose mandate extends over the longer term:

  • for important social, political or economic fields with a long-term perspective, in which new scientific findings must be processed continually and across disciplines to serve as the basis for government action, both nationally and internationally, or
  • for politically and socially controversial, rapidly developing scientific topics in which a recurring need for legislation with considerable relevance to research is anticipated.

When establishing a Permanent Senate Commission, the need for the results of the Commission’s work must be substantiated and its establishment on a permanent basis must be justified.

Senate Commissions

The Senate can appoint Senate Commissions in areas with a strong need for research, coordination and multi-layered structuring with the mandate to develop interdisciplinary approaches for complex coordination, improvement of the research infrastructure and establishment of structures conducive to research, where necessary in cooperation with other national and international organisations.

Senate Commissions of the DFG

Contact persons for the individual Senate Commissions and Committees can be found on the pages of the respective statutory bodies.

The DFG Senate has adopted rules for handling conflicts of interest in the advisory activities of Senate Commissions. These rules serve as the basis for deliberations by the Senate Commissions.