Information for Researchers, No. 74 | October 31, 2019

Emmy Noether Independent Junior Research Groups in the Field of Artificial Intelligence Methods

Artificial intelligence (AI) methods are increasingly becoming an integral part of the research process in many branches of science and the humanities. Top-level academic research therefore requires research on AI methods themselves. This encompasses the enhancement of AI methods as well as the analysis and review of such methods. As part of the strategic funding initiative in the field of AI, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will first focus on supporting early career researchers in this field. The objective of this call is to recruit the next generation of highly qualified researchers who focus on AI methods by opening up career options with a high level of autonomy at an early stage.

The DFG now invites suitably qualified early career researchers in the field of AI to submit proposals to the Emmy Noether Programme. This call is aimed at individuals from a wide range of disciplines who specialise in the field of AI method development.

Successful applicants will be given the opportunity to refine their research profile, improve their international visibility and become eligible for a professorship by leading an independent junior research group over a period of six years. Projects based on research questions addressing the development or enhancement of AI methods of any kind, as well as the formation of method theories and the analysis and review of AI methods, are eligible for funding. Eligibility also extends to projects in the field of AI methods for model formation, process development and modelling, performance evaluation or architecture. In this context, the term AI methods is very broadly defined and encompasses, but is not limited to, the following topics: machine learning, logic and reasoning, data analytics and data mining, knowledge representation, knowledge-based systems, planning, uncertainty modelling, Bayesian methods, explainability, inference and mathematical/formal description as well as an analysis of the above topics.

Eligibility Requirements

Postdoctoral researchers, junior professors with temporary contracts in the early stage of their research career and those with temporary “qualification professorships” are eligible to submit proposals.

Proposals can generally be submitted two to four years after completing a doctorate. In the context of this call, eligibility within the four-year eligibility period is given with the submission of the draft proposals. The childcare regulation that is currently in force until 1 July 2020 (see guidelines 50.02, section 2.1.4.) applies.

Applicants who have completed their doctorates within the past two years are particularly encouraged to apply so that they can establish themselves in research at an early stage.

Applicants are expected to have an above average doctorate and provide evidence of significant preliminary work in the form of ambitious publications in internationally respected publication outlets or appropriate relevant experience based on industrial research in one of the aforementioned areas. International research experience should be demonstrated, for example, by research visits abroad, international research collaborations or an international working environment, for example.

Deadlines and Submission of Proposals

The review process consists of two stages. In both stages, the review process is based on the standard criteria applicable in the Emmy Noether Programme (see DFG form 10.210).

The first stage of the review process is based on draft proposals of not more than five pages. In the event of a positive review, the applicant will be invited to draw up a full proposal consisting of 20 pages, as is standard for the programme, and give an oral presentation. The second stage of the review process and the subsequent decision regarding funding are based on the full proposal and the oral presentation.

Draft proposals are to be submitted in English via email to by 19 February 2020.

The envisaged deadline for submitting full proposals is 29 July 2020.

Instructions for Draft Proposals

The draft proposal may not exceed five pages in length and must be structured as follows:

  1. State of the art and preliminary work
  2. Objectives
  3. Work programme incl. proposed research methods
  4. Requested funds

Under "4. Requested funds", it is sufficient to provide estimates; quotes do not need to be provided in the draft proposal phase. Only requests for staff and equipment funding in excess of €10,000, which are planned for the subsequent full proposal, must be justified with reference to the work programme.

Appendices: The draft proposal must include an academic curriculum vitae including a list of up to ten of the most important publications. No other documents need to be included at the draft proposal stage. Note that compared to the structure used in form 53.05 ("Project Description – Emmy Noether Programme") for full proposals, certain items have been omitted and do not need to be addressed. Unless otherwise noted here, the instructions in 54.01 ("Proposal Preparation Instructions – Project Proposals") and guidelines 50.02 ("Guidelines for Emmy Noether Programme") apply.

Applicants can submit proposals for the usual modules of the Emmy Noether Programme.

Funding Duration

Two three-year periods

Plan of Action

This call for proposals is part of a strategic DFG funding initiative in the field of AI. It constitutes the first part of a package of measures to support knowledge-driven basic research in the field of AI. Further calls in the Emmy Noether Programme are scheduled for 2020 and 2021.

The second part of the proposed package of measures includes two calls for proposals and the subsequent funding of Research Units. In this way, the DFG aims to promote collaboration between researchers in the field of AI methods and scientists and scholars in research fields that either use AI methods for the purpose of gaining scientific insights or examining overarching practical and theoretical scientific, epistemic, legal or sociological questions associated with the use of AI.

This interlinking of topics and staff appears to be particularly promising when researchers working at the interface described above play an integral part in the Research Units. There will therefore be a special focus on creating and integrating professorships at the interface between AI methodology development and the respective research field. The first call for proposals for Research Units will be published at the beginning of 2020 at the latest.

Successful applicants in either of the two funding lines will also be given the opportunity to exchange ideas and network with one other and other national and international stakeholders in the field at a number of events. Funded projects are expected to present their results within this context.

The DFG intends to establish synergies between the projects it funds as part of the AI initiative and Alexander von Humboldt Professorships, especially those awarded as a contribution towards the German Federal Government’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

Further Information

The forms and guidelines referenced in the call can be found at:

Guidelines 50.02 "Guidelines for Emmy Noether Programme":

Instructions 54.01 "Proposal Preparation Instructions – Project Proposals":

Form 10.210 "Guidelines for Reviews in the Emmy Noether Programme":

DFG Programme Contacts:

Research inquiries:

Procedural inquiries:

Information about other calls for proposals within the “Artificial Intelligence” funding initiative: