Information for Researchers, No. 50 | June 15, 2023

NSF-DFG Funding Opportunity for Collaborations in Physics

The pursuit of scientific goals recognises no geographic boundaries and as such, international collaborations are more the norm than the exception nowadays. To facilitate the support of collaborative work between US groups and their German counterparts, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Physics Division (PHY) and the DFG’s Physics and Chemistry division have recently agreed on a joint lead-agency process for projects in the area of Physics. US researchers are invited to consult the NSF Dear Colleague Letter (see link below). This funding activity includes only the areas described in the NSF Division of Physics programmes (see link below).

The proposals will be assessed in competition with other proposals received in the same submission window by one of the agencies that will serve as the lead agency. It is important to note that there are no separate funds available for these efforts; proposals must compete with all other proposals within the programmes opened to the lead agency activity and must succeed on the strengths of their scientific quality and originality. From the viewpoint of the DFG, this is a special case of the DFG’s individual research grants programme (Sachbeihilfe), with a few additional provisions. The result of the review process will be shared between the agencies to make final decisions on this basis. Support will be granted for those proposals with both DFG and NSF recommendation for funding. Proposals selected for funding will be funded by the NSF on the US side and by the DFG on the German side. Researchers are to acknowledge both the NSF and the DFG in any reports or publications arising from the grant.

Timeline for Submissions

Proposals where the DFG is the lead agency can be submitted on a continuous basis. For proposals where the lead agency is the NSF, please refer to the NSF-Physics Division for specific timing of deadlines.

Proposal Preparation and Submission

Prior to the submission, applicants must discuss within their research team where they feel the largest proportion of research lies and agree on a proposed lead agency (either NSF or DFG).

The eligibility to submit a proposal follows the regulations for the NSF and DFG programmes for individual funding respectively. All practices, such as demarcation from other national funding agencies, of the DFG and NSF programmes involved also apply to joint NSF-DFG proposals. Applicants to be funded by the DFG are requested to fulfil the eligibility requirements of DFG Research Grants, see the corresponding Guidelines Research Grants Programme (cf. DFG form 50.01 – link below). This includes the duty to cooperate (“Kooperationspflicht”) within Germany for members of non-university institutions with permanent positions. Researchers must contact the corresponding programme officers prior to the submission.

Proposals must be submitted in accordance with the proposal preparation requirements of the chosen lead agency via (NSF) and elan (DFG). All documents submitted to the NSF and the DFG must be in English. For the NSF, the Solicitation NSF “Division of Physics: Investigator-Initiated Research Projects”, and for the DFG, the Guidelines Research Grants Programme (DFG form 50.01, see link below), should be consulted. Within one week after submitting the proposal to the lead agency, the partner has to submit a copy of the proposal – in lead-agency formatting – to the non-lead agency (NSF or DFG) to input the necessary information and forms into the corresponding system. In a short accompanying letter, the applicants should inform the DFG and the NSF about the chosen lead agency.

For submissions where the DFG is selected as the lead agency:
Please follow the instructions for individual research grants and use the DFG template Project Description – Project Proposal (DFG form 53.01, see link below) to submit the proposal via the DFG’s electronic proposal system (elan). Please select “NSF-DFG PHYS” from the list of calls. Please note that if you are using the elan system for the first time, you need to register prior to submitting your application with your complete personal details and address details via elan 5 days prior to the submission at the latest.

The proposal must include a description of the full proposed research programme and research team, and describe the total resources for the joint project (i.e. the funds requested for both the German and the US groups). However, the budget submitted to each agency should only indicate the amount requested from that agency. For the DFG, this means the budget entered into elan should only be that of the German part.

A separate document, the Justification of Resources, should include a clear summary and justification of the funds requested from the NSF as well as a detailed breakdown of funding requested from the NSF. The latter document will be shared with the NSF to verify the allowability of funds requested.

The US investigators should be included in elan as Other Participating Individuals / Cooperation Partners. A Biographical Sketch for each of these individuals should be provided with a format that conforms to the DFG Guidelines for Preparing Publication Lists (DFG form 1.91; see link below).

In parallel to submitting the proposal to the DFG, the US partner is required to submit a copy of the proposal to the NSF. For submissions where the NSF is chosen as the lead agency, the description of the funding opportunity is described in a Dear Colleague Letter retrievable under the link below.

Applicants will be informed in writing of the results of the review and, where applicable, of the subsequent administrative steps according to the respective agency regulations.

Privacy and Data Protection

Please note the DFG’s data protection notice on research funding (see link below). If necessary, please forward this information to those individuals whose data will be processed by the DFG due to their involvement in your project – see link to privacy policy below.

The agencies will share information about received proposals and the recommendations of the corresponding panels and boards. The NSF and the DFG are committed to maintaining data confidentiality, protection and privacy, and intend to fully abide by their own applicable laws and policies concerning the sharing of data in our collaborative activities. The NSF and the DFG will follow their own data retention policies once data is shared from one to the other.

Equity and Diversity

The DFG strongly welcomes proposals from researchers of all genders and sexual identities, from different ethnic, cultural, religious, ideological or social backgrounds, from different career stages, types of universities and research institutions, and with disabilities or chronic illness. With regard to the subject-specific focus of this call, the DFG encourages female researchers in particular to submit proposals.

Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice
Please note that according to a resolution of the DFG General Assembly, since 1 August 2019, DFG funding may only be awarded to institutions that have implemented the guidelines laid down in the Code of Conduct for Safeguarding Good Research Practice in their own regulations in a legally binding manner.

This means that also for international proposals funding from the DFG can only be received if the guidelines for ensuring good research practice (see link below) have been implemented by the institution of the German applicant. If you have any questions on this subject, please contact the Research Integrity team at the DFG Head Office (see contact below). Further information regarding implementation can be found at the webpage on Research Integrity (see link below).

Further information

NSF Physics Division:

NSF Dear Colleague Letters:

DFG individual grants:

Project template:

DFG Guidelines for Preparing Publication Lists:

DFG Privacy Policy:

Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice. Code of Conduct:

Information on the implementation of the Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice. Code of Conduct:

Contact of the DFG´s Research Integrity team (Good Research Practice):

Contact at the NSF:

Contact at the DFG: