Schmuckbild „Digitalisierung und Erschließung“

Digitisation and Indexing Funding Programme

The funding programme is aimed at members of research information infrastructure facilities in Germany such as libraries, archives, museums, research collections, research data centres or computing and information centres.

The objective of the funding is to promote the digitisation and/or indexing of research-related objects of any kind, including the following:

  • handwritten and printed documents that have been passed down
  • museum objects such as art collections (paintings, sculptures), natural science collections (herbaria, rock collections, beetles, bird calls), ethnological collections, theatre collections, etc.
  • audio and/or visual media (e.g. video collections)
  • genuine digital data (“born digital”), e.g. digital works of art, digital literary remains (e-mail correspondence etc.)
  • image datasets (e.g. three-dimensional micro-CT data)

The programme also enables virtual, cross-disciplinary mergers of collections held at different locations.

With regard to materials for which digitisation and/or indexing standards are yet to be established, the programme also aims to promote the development and/or application of quality criteria.

Furthermore, proposals may be submitted under this funding programme that involve the application of newer methods for digitisation and indexing, e.g. optical character recognition (OCR) or optical layout recognition (OLR), automatic image recognition, named-entity recognition or 3D digitisation.


As part of its Scientific Library Services and Information Systems programmes, the DFG funds projects at research institutions and in particular service and information centres in Germany. The aim is to set up efficient research information systems on a nationwide basis.


  • Digitise and/or index holdings and collections that are of nationwide importance to research
  • Develop quality criteria for materials where established standards do not yet exist for digitisation and/or indexing
  • Apply new digitisation and indexing processes:
    e.g. Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Optical Layout Recognition (OLR) or Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), automatic image recognition, Named Entity Recognition and 3D digitisation.
  • Expand portals relating to specific materials and/or subject areas
  • Any project must be clearly distinct from the fundamental mission of the institution which maintains the collections: 
    projects dedicated to the promotion of culture, cultural education or the preservation of cultural assets, etc. are not eligible for funding
  • Virtual consolidation of collections from different institutions, also across different disciplines, where this has the effect of stimulating research
  • Projects are to enable research but should not themselves involve research activity 

Funding for bridge project proposals


Members of non-profit research information infrastructure facilities in Germany such as libraries, archives, museums, research collections, research data centres or computing and information centres are generally eligible to submit proposals, regardless of the size of the institution

Any researcher in Germany or working at a German research institution abroad who has completed their academic training, generally by obtaining a doctorate


In case there is a lack of well-founded experience of digitisation and/or indexing projects and the nationwide provision of data, cooperation is recommended with a larger institution dedicated to maintaining holdings, such as a university or state library, a state archive, a larger museum or a media centre, etc.

This also applies to smaller institutions that do not have the personnel and/or infrastructure for such projects. 

Scope of the projects

There is neither a minimum nor a maximum limit with regard to the amount of funding which can be applied for. The proposal volume is derived from the costing of the project. 

Project results

It must be guaranteed that the digitised assets and metadata can be permanently stored and are accessible at the institution taking part in the project.

Good Research Practice (GRP)

If your institution has not yet implemented GRP at all, i.e. not even in the previous version, please get in touch with us before submitting a proposal.

Instructions on the use of the programme allowance for indirect project costs

The proposal can only be submitted via the DFG’s elan portal.

All applicants must have registered on the elan portal before the proposal is submitted. Please note that registration on the elan portal can take up to 24 hours.

Digitisation and/or indexing of holdings and collections that are of nationwide importance to research

  • Handwritten and printed documents that have been passed down such as medieval and contemporary manuscripts, legacies and autographs, prints, newspapers and journals
  • Museum objects such as art collections (paintings, sculptures), natural science collections (herbaria, rock collections, beetles, bird calls), ethnological collections, theatre collections, etc.
  • Audio and/or visual media (e.g. video collections)
  • Genuine digital data (“born digital”), e.g. digital works of art, digital literary remains (e-mail correspondence, etc.)
  • Image datasets (e.g. three-dimensional micro-CT data)


  • Selected holdings and collections must be of scientific relevance to a broader user group
  • Differentiation from the overall holdings of the applicant institution (e.g. rarity, singularity, etc.)
  • Coherence of the collection (e.g. based on theme or form) 
  • Rights must be cleared as necessary in advance of proposal submission (e.g. copyright, personal rights, property rights, etc.)
  • Copyright-protected material

Digitisation projects

  • Holdings at foreign institutions are also eligible for funding, as are private collections.
  • In justified cases, digitisation is also possible without prior indexing. Requirement: Basic data for the analogue and digital source objects must be created in accordance with the basic data record.
  • Basic data record

Indexing projects

  • Only permanently and freely accessible collections kept at publicly funded institutions in Germany are eligible for funding.

Specific material types

  • Established, material-specific digitisation and indexing standards must be applied 
    • The proposal must state which standards are to be used for which materials.
    • Are standardised data/thesauri to be used for indexing?
  • If no standards exist for the digitisation and/or indexing of certain materials, funding can be provided for the development and/or application of quality criteria, best-practice rules or guidelines 
    • An explanation is to be provided as to how the respective type of material is currently handled nationally/internationally (field analysis).
    • The aim should be to establish technical formats that are geared towards optimum interoperability of the digitised assets and metadata created through the project.
    • Workshops on the necessary coordination processes in the community (both the information science community and the research community) are also eligible for funding: the aim here to achieve the broadest possible application of the formats developed at both national and international level. 
  • Multiple copies in the case of digitisation projects
    • Selection of which copies are to be digitised (the aim should not be to digitise every copy of a work with DFG funds)
    • Criteria should be agreed on within the community as far as possible
  • The potential of digitisation should be exploited where appropriate, e.g. for digital editions
  • Which software is to be used for the digitisation and indexing workflows?
  • Rationale as to why digitisation should be carried out in-house or via a service provider 
    • If in-house: which scanners are to be used for which materials? 
  • Which exchange formats are to be used? 
  • Is the object digitisation dependent on a specific manufacturer or device?
    • Reusability and reproducibility must be guaranteed
    • Device settings must be documented in the metadata
  • Autonomous organisation of the best-practice rules for digitisation (in German only)
  • Description of what the collection contains and explanation of its nationwide significance and research relevance 
    • For example, describe which current research projects are dedicated to working with the collection or which potential research questions will be enabled as a result of digitisation and/or indexing.
  • Contextualisation of the projects at the national and international level
    • Specific details should be supplied of which initiatives the project is linked to and how, e.g. through individual consortia of the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI).
  • Work plan and schedule
    • Presentation of a detailed quantity structure as a basis for the work plan and schedule as well as for the cost estimate.
    • Individual work stages are to be set out transparently and in a way that is easy for the reviewers to understand.
    • Information on what average time will be required for which type of material for digitisation (possibly broken down by scanner type) and for indexing, and how these average times were determined (e.g. based on experience gained from previous projects, tests carried out on significant samples, etc.).
    • For each work package, an explanation should be provided of the extent to which types of funds (funds for staff, funds for direct project costs) are to be used, broken down into funds requested from the DFG and funds to be contributed by the applicant.
    • A detailed explanation is to be provided of how the project will be managed.


  • Flat-rate amounts are to be requested in accordance with the summary "DFG Personnel Rates". Exception: Specific amounts should be requested for auxiliary staff in accordance with customary local rates.
  • A rationale should be provided for the classification of the staffing positions applied for.
  • IT allowances for staff
    • IT staff who are involved in projects or infrastructure measures in the area of application-oriented development (e.g. conceptualisation and programming of software) without seeking to obtain further qualifications themselves can be granted an allowance that is permissible under collective bargaining law and exceeds the standard rates specified in the guidelines on personnel rates (DFG form 60.12).
    • In connection with ongoing projects, such allowances can be financed either in the context of flexible funding or by applying for extra funds to cover additional needs arising from a collective agreement.
    • In newly proposed projects, a separate rationale must be provided for the extra funds for allowances permitted under a collective agreement.
  • DFG personnel rates

Funding for direct project costs

A comparative offer is to be submitted.

Instrumentation costs

If devices (scanners, camera systems etc.) are applied for, a rationale must be provided for the project-specific requirements as distinct from core support.

One third of the project-specific costs must be provided as the applicant's own financial contribution

  • Funds for basic tasks or core support cannot be counted as the applicant’s own contribution, e.g. equipping a workplace or covering inventory costs.
  • Funding conservation/restoration measures can only be recognised as an applicant’s own financial contribution if a plausible rationale is provided for such measures being specifically necessary for the project. Conservation support may be necessary to ensure that objects are not damaged by digitisation measures, for example. 

The applicant’s own financial contributions can comprise the following

  • Staff:
    Please specify the exact working time in relation to the full-time equivalent in percent, the classification and the amount of working hours assigned to the persons involved. In addition, the applicant’s own contribution per position should be stated in euros, calculated based on the costs incurred at the institution.
  • Funding for direct project costs:
    For example travel expenses; funds for contracts with third parties (e.g. for external digitisation measures); funds for consumables are not eligible, for example.
  • Instrumentation:
    The use of the applicant’s own scanners can be recognised as a financial contribution, taking into account the usual depreciation costs; project-related back-up of data for the duration of the project.gskosten; Projektbezogene Sicherung von Daten für die Dauer des Projekts.
  • Evidence of the availability of project results in nationwide reference and presentation systems
  • If no suitable systems are available for certain types of objects, an explanation must be provided of how optimum findability and reusability is to be ensured
  • Availability must be geared towards the needs of users in the research system, which are subject to constant change
  • Availability in open access 
    • Project results must be made available to researchers immediately, without restriction and on a lasting basis. For this reason, open access availability is to be clarified before the proposal is submitted.
    • Full-scale reuse in other research environments must also be guaranteed.
    • In the spirit of open access and open source, it is assumed that all results – metadata, digitised assets, full texts or the XML on which the full texts are based, XSLT scripts and DTDs or XML schema files – are to be offered for free reuse to the extent legally possible. To this end, it should be stated whether or not digitised objects are part of the public domain. If this is not the case, they should be offered under the freest possible licence.
  • The long-term archiving concept is to be presented.

The process of review, evaluation and decision-making on proposals should be expected to take more than six months.


  • Proposals are generally reviewed in a written procedure from both a subject-specific and an IT perspective.


  • Subsequently, a comparative evaluation of proposals takes place by means of an oral or written procedure involving members of the Committee on Scientific Library Services and Information Systems (AWBI), possibly with the support of DFG review board members.


The final decision on proposals is made by the Joint Committee of the DFG.

The drawdown of funds is handled by means of a form. Please complete and sign the form “41.031 – Drawdown Research Grants (Third-Party Funds)” (available in German only) and send the original to:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
– Financial Grant Management –
53170 Bonn, Germany

Interim report

  • Unless otherwise stated in the grant, an interim report is only required when a renewal proposal is submitted.
  • The interim report is submitted via the elan portal along with the renewal proposal.
  • The data sheet for interim and final reports is to be included with the interim report.

Final report