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Information for Researchers No. 20 | 19 May 2011
Update: DFG Priority Programme 1646 “Education as a Lifelong Process”  

Extended Deadline of the Call for the first Funding Period

At its third session on Thursday, 12 May 2011, the scientific board of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) also considered the opportunities of the DFG Priority Programme for the scientific community. The scientific board was very impressed by what has been achieved at NEPS to provide full data access to the scientific community. Given that this is an ongoing process and that some achievements are of a very recent character the board was concerned that the wider scientific community has had sufficient time and opportunity to take notice and advantage of these developments. At the same time it is and has to be a primary goal of NEPS to disseminate the data as widely as possible and of DFG’s Priority Programme to draw in the wider scientific community. In view of these aims the scientific board recommended to give more time to get familiar with the NEPS opportunities and, therefore, to extend the deadline for proposal submissions. The Steering Committee welcomes this recommendation.

As a consequence, DFG agrees to extend the deadline. The new deadline for submissions is Wednesday, 31 August 2011. Proposals that arrive at DFG after this deadline cannot be considered.

General Information:

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) announces the establishment of a new Priority Programme entitled ”Education as a Lifelong Process” (SPP 1646). The DFG invites scientists to submit proposals until 31 August 2011. The DFG will make decisions on the proposals by December 2011. The funding periods of the Priority Programme are three years. The first funding period is from 2012 until 2014.

Today, not much is known about education as a lifelong process and the cumulative and interactive impact of learning that occurs in multiple contexts over the life span. The new National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) in Germany is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within its Framework Programme for the Promotion of Empirical Educational Research. The NEPS will soon provide unique, nationally representative longitudinal data on individual’s educational careers and competencies and how they unfold over the life course in relation to family, educational institutions, workplaces, and private life. To obtain relevant data as quickly as possible, four starting cohorts have been recruited in the fall of 2010. These contain persons at a specific stage in the education system or in a specific age group. Sample selection is oriented toward transitions both within the education system and between the education system and the labour market. The major transitions are those to elementary school, to the tracked secondary school system, to vocational training or higher education, and to the labour market for graduates of both vocational training and higher education. An exception is the starting cohort for studying adult education. Irrespective of current participation in education or the labour market, this representative sample of 23- to 64-year-olds is already being surveyed in 2009. Work has also started on building up a further birth cohort of infants to document and analyse early childhood development and the entry to early childhood care institutes (day nursery, Kindergarten, etc.). The first major assessments in this cohort will commence in 2012.

To summarise the six representative starting cohorts are composed of infants, 4-year-olds attending Kindergarten, 10- to 11-year-olds in 5th grade, 14- to 15-year-olds in 9th grade, first-year higher education students, and 23- to 64-year-old adults.

These cohorts can be visualised in a multicohort sequence design. The multicohort sequence design of the NEPS covers educational careers of about 60,000 participants from early childhood up to old age. To document and analyse historical changes in the way people pass through these stages, new starting cohorts will also be recruited in later years (creating a succession of cohorts).

NEPS is set up as an open research infrastructure providing unique data for further research within the scientific community. The Priority Programme of the DFG aims to be a starting point to foster widespread public use of the data and the research opportunities of NEPS. This call is open to all interested researchers in Germany from all related disciplines in social sciences. Equal access to the data is granted for prospective applicants. Further information is available at the NEPS homepage (see below).

The members of the NEPS Steering Committee are Prof. Dr. Jutta Allmendinger, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Hans-Peter Blossfeld (chairman), University of Bamberg, Prof. Dr. Hans-Günter Roßbach, University of Bamberg, Prof. Dr. Sabine Weinert, University of Bamberg, and Prof. Dr. Andrä Wolter, Humboldt University of Berlin.

Submitted research projects should focus on (one of the following themes):

  • Substantive analysis utilising the NEPS database. This includes descriptions and analysis of educational transitions, careers and competence developments over shorter and longer spans in the life course as well as all kinds of theory-driven studies on educational processes. The design and the data collection of the NEPS are based on a broad range of theories and hypotheses from sociology, psychology, education, and economics regarding the conditions and consequences of education as a lifelong process.
  • Linking and analysing NEPS data together with other national and/or international datasets in order to conduct theory-driven (comparative) analyses. In particular, projects are welcome on cross-national comparisons of educational transitions or pathways and competence developments using longitudinal data. Projects are also invited which match data from other data sources in Germany (e.g. data from the statistical offices of the federal states in Germany or process-produced data from the Federal Employment Agency) to the NEPS database.
  • Addressing methodological issues relevant to the NEPS. Analyses of education as a lifelong process require advanced quantitative longitudinal methodology. The Priority Programme therefore invites projects which apply and further develop new methodology and techniques of longitudinal data analysis. Two topics of these projects are particularly useful at the beginning: Projects with a focus on mode effects, primarily in competence measurements over the life course; and projects with a focus on the development of new methods of item and unit imputation in the case of longitudinal studies in a multilevel design. However, the Priority Programme also invites projects which further develop statistical and data management tools for longitudinal data analysis.

Proposals for an initial three-year funding period should be submitted in English on paper (three copies) and on CD-ROM (including the proposal and all appendices as PDF files) no later than 31 August 2011. Submissions, marked as “SPP 1646”, should be addressed to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, 53170 Bonn. For review of the proposals the DFG will install a group of international experts in the field of educational research. The review panel meeting is planned for October 2011. The first funding period will start in January 2012.

Further information

Information on the NEPS panel study, questionnaires and data releases is available at:

Please note: Questionnaires can only be downloaded through the following user login:

  • username: neps2spp

  • password: neps2spp

The guideline “Research Grants – Guidelines and Proposal Preparation Instructions” (1.02e) is available at:

For scientific enquiries concerning the scope of the programme, please contact the Priority Programme’s coordinator:

  • Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans-Peter Blossfeld
    Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
    Nationales Bildungspanel
    96045 Bamberg
    Phone +49 951 863-3404

For funding enquiries please contact at DFG Head Office:

  • Dr. Manfred Nießen
    Phone +49 228 885-2393, manfred.niessen@dfg.de

For administrative enquiries please contact:

  • Ms. Katja Fleischer
    Phone +49 228 885-2380, katja.fleischer@dfg.de