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Information for Applicants and Funding Recipients

Coronavirus pandemic: special arrangements and options

If you intend to submit a proposal to the DFG, you may be hesitating due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you work in a DFG-funded project, the crisis may be affecting your plans. Or if you lead a DFG-funded project, you may be concerned about the allocation and use of funds.

Here you will find information on DFG research funding during the coronavirus pandemic, brought together in one place. This page will be updated whenever new information is available.

Although the programme contacts at the DFG Head Office are working from home, you can still get in touch with them. All team members are working hard to keep funding activities functioning as normally as possible. However, should there be any delays, we ask for your patience.

General information on preparing a proposal

The DFG Head Office is continuing to accept proposals to its funding programmes as normal in spite of the coronavirus pandemic – submissions have not been halted. Many steps in the process have been modified to allow proposals to be processed in a time as close to normal as possible. Changes to process times may apply for specific programmes. In some programmes and calls, the deadlines for submitting proposals have been amended.

With regard to the start of the project, the DFG would like to draw your attention to the applicable funding guidelines, which allow a large degree of flexibility as to the start of a research project. In the case of individual grants (e.g. research grants or awards under the Walter Benjamin Programme), projects can begin up to one year after receipt of the award letter without expiry of the funds. All researchers are required to agree with the institutions in Germany or abroad where the project is to be carried out the periods of time during which the appropriate resources can be made available.

The realistically planned timing on the date of submission can be indicated in the proposal. Due to the flexibility of the funding start date, it is not necessary to notify the DFG Head Office of any delays of a few months in the planning during the proposal process.

Periods of absence from research in the proposal

To enable reviewers to assess an applicant’s scientific track record appropriately, the DFG Head Office requests applicants to note any circumstances that may have hampered their scientific work. Examples include periods in which a researcher was unable to work continuously, due to childcare obligations or a prolonged serious illness or disability

which relates to the presentation of curricula vitae). Significant delays resulting from a pandemic count as circumstances of this type; they may hinder scientific work, concrete preliminary work for the proposed project or publication output. Applicants can inform the reviewers in the CV, in the description of preliminary work or at another suitable point in the proposal about periods of absence from research or any special measures taken due to a pandemic.

Financial impacts on project work

In a letter on 17 March 2020, the DFG addressed the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on project work. On 20 May it announced a package of measures approved by the Joint Committee. As a result of these measures, additional funds are now available in a range of funding programmes to allow research that cannot be carried out in line with the planned method and productivity due to the current situation to be continued and successfully completed.

Note: The DFG guidelines for the use of funding allow some flexibility in the use of approved funds.

Projects Funding

Should delays have occurred in a DFG-funded project as a result of precautionary or protective measures taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic, if necessary the DFG will make additional staff and project funding available for a period of up to three months. These funds can be requested using DFG application form 41.47 if the funding period for ongoing projects ends between 1 April 2020 and 30 June 2021. On the one-page form, the need for extra funds is explained by selecting the appropriate check box (e.g. temporary closure of an institution, lack of access to the necessary research infrastructures or a travel ban affecting international travel required for the research project).

Collaborative Research Centres

All Collaborative Research Centres whose funding ends on 30 June 2020, 31 December 2020 or 30 June 2021 without the option of a renewal proposal are may receive an additional three months' funding from the end of the funding period, as a one-time allowance. No formal application procedure is required. For the equivalent period, 80 percent of the previous funding is available. In the application for additional funding, the causal relationship with the measures taken to contain the coronavirus pandemic must be briefly explained. The additional funding should be settled with the annual report on the use of funds.

To respond to the acute, unusual difficulties that may arise for families as a result of daycare centres or schools being closed or only partially open, DFG-funded research staff in Collaborative Research Centres affected by this situation and whose employment contract ends between 1 May and 31 December 2020 can, as an exceptional measure, be funded for up to three months longer from approved equal opportunity funds. Equal opportunity funds can be used in appropriate amounts for the short-term relief of individual difficulties faced by project managers and research staff on individual projects who are experiencing unusual family difficulties due to coronavirus. The types of relief that can be funded include, for example, project-specific routine activities, project-related teaching or individual funding as a technical assistant or research assistant.

Research Training Groups

If research has been adversely affected by the measures taken to contain the coronavirus, all Research Training Groups can extend the contract period for doctoral researchers funded from RTG funds – beyond the normal 36 months – by up to 12 months to a total of 48 months. The Research Training Group itself is responsible for deciding in which cases an extension will be offered and for what period (a maximum of 12 months up to a total of 48 months).

If the approved funds are not sufficient, even after reallocation within the budget year, the DFG will provide funds for contract extensions equivalent to up to three monthly payments for a staff post or fellowship per doctoral researcher. In justified individual cases, additional funds equivalent to up to three monthly payments for a staff post or fellowship can also be approved for other staff categories. Funds should be requested from the DFG in the year for which they are needed for contract extensions, by 30 September of that year. A form is available for this purpose.

Fellowships

For fellowships outside Research Training Groups and Collaborative Research Centres, the arrangements announced in the letter of 20 March 2020 continue to apply. The DFG announced a three-month extension of these arrangements on 17 July 2020.

Cancellation costs

Cancellation costs for events that have had to be cancelled due to coronavirus measures can be settled as project expenses in all programmes. For funded events which are rescheduled up to 30 September 2021, the original approval will continue to apply and the approved amount can be supplemented by the cancellation costs if necessary. Funds can be requested using DFG application form 41.47.

Equal Opportunity

Equal Opportunity in Research During the Coronavirus Pandemic – Support from the DFG

Project delays due to non-availability of childcare – requests for additional funds

In a letter to all funding recipients on 17 March 2020
(Link auf PDF-Dateiletter to all funding recipients, in German only), the DFG announced the option of applying for additional funding for needs resulting from coronavirus containment measures to cover project-specific delays. Funding recipients can also apply for additional financial resources in the event of staff absences to care for children due to the closure of daycare, schools and other places that normally provide childcare, if these absences result in delays to the project. This can be specified under "Other" in the application for emergency support for DFG-funded projects (Interner LinkDFG form 41.47).

It should be noted that additional funds can only be applied for if the project is due to end by 30 June 2021 and the project duration has not already benefited from a cost-neutral extension. However, if an extension was approved on the basis of family obligations (maternity leave, parental leave or care of relatives), the DFG can also accept applications for emergency support that falls within or exceeds the period of benefit resulting from an extension.

Support sourced from fixed equal opportunity funds

In view of the current restrictions on childcare due to the coronavirus pandemic, childcare can also be funded outside of non-core hours from the fixed amount allowed for equal opportunity measures. "Outside of non-core hours" applies essentially to times when no childcare is or was offered, so should be interpreted more broadly than usual. Arrangements such as this should not of course circumvent containment measures imposed by the federal or state governments, i.e. local regulations relating to containing the coronavirus should be adhered to.

The DFG also assumes that parents will contribute financially to childcare at the usual rates for a given local area and that the provision used will be institutional. Funds must not be directly awarded to parents. As always, the betterment ban should be adhered to. In other words, only if the university, research institution or research group actually offers emergency childcare for all research staff can this be used by DFG funding recipients and funded from the fixed amount.
Currently, these legal restrictions often make it impossible to cover childcare costs from the fixed sum for equal opportunity measures. However, the use of a families service by the group and/or institution could be a solution that allows funds to be used for purpose in accordance with the guidelines.

The fixed amount for equal opportunity measures can also be used for short-term workload relief for researchers with family obligations. As well as assistant staff for project-specific routine activities, stand-ins can also be funded for project-related teaching in the case of project managers with family responsibilities. To balance research work with family obligations, equipment necessary for home working in connection with a specific project (e.g. a laptop or docking station), which cannot be funded from core support, can be covered by the equal opportunity funds. Please note that, during the current coronavirus pandemic, in many places a home workstation counts as part of core support and the local situation must be reviewed individually.

Equal opportunity funds can be used in appropriate amounts for the short-term relief of individual difficulties faced by project managers and research staff on individual projects who are experiencing particular pressures within the family due to coronavirus. The types of relief that can be funded include, for example, project-specific routine activities, project-related teaching or individual funding as a technical assistant or research assistant.

In Collaborative Research Centres, contracts for research staff whose employment contract ends between 1 May and 31 December 2020 can, as an exception, receive funding for an additional three months from approved equal opportunity funds.

If you have any questions, please contact the Equal Opportunity team:

If you have any questions about applying for emergency support for DFG-funded projects, please contact

Contacts

If you have any questions, please contact

  • For Collaborative Research Centres and Research Training Groups, the contact person responsible for your programme
  • For all other programmes, in urgent cases: Ms. Sonja Auen (Tel.: +49 (0)228/885-2521)
  • Ms. Claudia Eich (Tel.: +49 (0)228/885-2167)
  • Ms. Nadine Mechtersheimer (Tel.: +49 (0)228/885-2141)
  • You can also contact us by email using the central address Link to Link auf E-MailFin2.corona-sofortmassnahmen@dfg.de

Bridge funding

For proposals that cannot be reviewed, the DFG has made the following arrangements.

Proposals for Collaborative Research Centres

Collaborative Research Centres whose proposals with a funding start date of 1 July 2020 could not be reviewed on site will receive

  • bridge funding for the period 1 July to year end amounting to the funding amount for the first half of 2020 for renewal proposals
  • compensatory funding for this period to continue setting up the CRC and consolidating the group of prospective project leaders and staff amounting to 25% of the amount requested for the second half of 2020 for establishment proposals

Renewal proposals for Research Units

If a review is not possible, it can be postponed for up to six months. In this case, bridge funding is available and this will be offset against a later award.

Renewal proposals in Priority Programmes

If a review is not possible, it can be postponed for up to six months. In this case, bridge funding is available and this will be offset against a later award.

Extended deadlines for DFG calls and programmes

In view of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on research activities, the DFG has extended the submission deadline for several of its current calls for proposals and programmes. Further deadline extensions will be introduced if necessary. Researchers can find regular updates under the information on the relevant call and under the respective programmes.

The deadlines for the following programmes have also been extended:

In the Emmy Noether Programme

The DFG is extending the individual eligibility period for proposal submission within the Emmy Noether Programme by three months for prospective applicants who would otherwise only be eligible to apply by 30 April 2021. Note that the rules on calculating the eligibility period, including the eligibility period start date, as outlined in the programme’s frequently asked questions, remain unaffected.

Fellowships

In a letter on 20 March 2020, the DFG addressed fellowships.

For research career support

Further Informationen for research career you can find: 

Video Statement by DFG President Katja Becker: Support During the Current Crisis (in German)

Postponed events

Celebratory Event

The celebratory event planned by the DFG and Stifterverband to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of their predecessor organisations with Federal President Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier as guest of honour, originally scheduled for 1 July 2020, will be held at a later date and potentially in a different format. The DFG and Stifterverband have already decided to postpone the joint event to next year.

Communicator Award and Special Award

The presentation of the 2020 Communicator Award of the DFG and Stifterverband on 30 June to fisheries scientist Professor Dr. Robert Arlinghaus, and the one-off Special Award for Outstanding Science Communication in the COVID-19 Pandemic to Berlin virologist Professor Dr. Christian Drosten, will be postponed.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize

The award ceremony for the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prizes, which was to be held on 16 March in Berlin with guests representing academia, politics and society, has been postponed; a new date will be announced in due course, with adequate notice.

Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize

The award ceremony for the 2020 Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes, originally scheduled for 5 May in Berlin, is also postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.