Jump to main navigation Skip to Content

DFG Logo: back to Homepage Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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 implications for project work

In a letter dated 17 March 2020, the DFG addressed the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on project work. On 20 May 2020 it published a set of measures adopted by the Joint Committee. This was followed by another decision by the Joint Committee on 26 March 2021 to extend and expand these measures. As a result of this, it is now possible to apply for additional funds under a number of funding procedures in order to continue and successfully complete research work that could not be carried out according to the planned procedure and level of productivity due to the current situation.

Note: The DFG’s funding guidelines give some leeway for the flexible use of approved funds.

Project Funding

If there have been delays in a DFG-funded project as a result of precautionary and protective measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the DFG will provide additional personnel and material resources for a period of up to three months if required. Funding for this can be requested at any time using DFG proposal template no. 41.47 where the funding period of an ongoing project is due to end between 1 April 2020 and 31 December 2021. The need is justified in the one-page proposal template by means of a predefined checkbox list (e.g. due to the temporary closure of an institution, lack of access to required research infrastructures or a travel ban that has affected foreign travel required for the research project, etc.). Applications should be submitted using DFG form 41.47 to the central mailbox Link to Link auf E-MailFin2.corona-sofortmassnahmen@dfg.de.

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. This measure is now extended. All Collaborative Research Centres whose funding is due to end on 31 December 2021 or 30 June 2022 may apply for additional funding for six months. 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.

Equal opportunities funds can also be used to an appropriate extent to meet the short-term individual relief needs of project leaders and research assistants who currently face exceptional family commitments due to the coronavirus. Relief that is eligible for funding includes routine project-specific activities, project-related teaching and funding for a technical assistant or research assistant.

Research Units and Priority Programmes

Research Units (incl. Clinical Research Units and Centres for Advanced Studies) and Priority Programmes (excluding SPP infrastructure programmes) whose last funding period ends by mid-2022 may apply for additional final funding providing containment measures have caused delays that have impaired achievement of the overall consortium project objectives. Funding of up to 80 percent of the previous amount is granted on a pro rata basis for six months. Here, previously approved corona emergency aid is deducted. Coordinators or spokespersons of eligible consortia will be contacted by the Head Office with further information on how to submit a proposal. After consultation within the consortium, the proposal for final funding is submitted by the respective project leader in elan via the ongoing project. DFG form 41.48 must be uploaded as a proposal in the correspondence form.

Research Training Groups

Due to a modification to the Research Training Groups Programme decided by the Joint Committee during its meeting in December 2020, 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 or up to six months for a staff post or fellowship per doctoral researcher. In justified individual cases, additional funds equivalent to up to three months 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.

Emmy Noether and Heisenberg-Programme

Funding recipients under the Emmy Noether Programme and holders of positions under the Heisenberg Programme whose last funding period is due to end in mid-2022 will, on request, be granted final funding of up to 80 percent of the calculated original funding amount for six months. Here, previously approved corona emergency aid is deducted. Proposal for final funding are to be submitted via the current Emmy Noether or Heisenberg project in elan; DFG form 41.48 must be uploaded as a proposal in the correspondence form.

Fellowships

For fellowships outside of the Research Training Groups and Collaborative Research Centres, the regulations published in the letters dated 20 March 2020 and 17 July 2020 (see “Further Information”) will continue to apply and are extended as follows (providing research work is possible, even if only to a limited extent):

A fellowship that cannot be taken up in the host country due to the pandemic can

  • be converted into a domestic fellowship by the DFG if the remaining period of the fellowship is less than six months. An extension is possible beyond the existing arrangement for a further three months;
  • conversion into a domestic position is possible if the remaining period is longer than six months. An extension of the position by three months is possible.

Fellowships that are taken up abroad and return fellowships with a remaining term of less than six months can be extended beyond the existing regulations by a further three months.

In the context of combined proposals under the Walter Benjamin Programme, domestic and foreign phases can be flexibly adjusted.

Fellowships under the Heisenberg Programme can be shortened and converted into positions on application.

Fellowship holders who are unable to start their project due to a current lack of work facilities (closure of laboratories, archives, etc.) can still claim the fellowship after consultation with the host institution.

All applications are to be submitted informally to the Fellowship Office.

Cancellation expenses and academic events

Cancellation expenses for events that have had to be cancelled due to the containment measures can be recognised as project expenses in all programmes. If funded events are made up by 30 June 2022, the original approval remains in place and the approved amount is supplemented with any cancellation expenses as needed. The funds can also be applied for using DFG 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).

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.

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

Please call your regular contact person from the Financial Grant Management Team for further information or contact us by email using the central address

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:

Emmy Noether Programme

The overall pandemic-related deadline extension of three months for the Emmy Noether Programme applies until the end of 2021.

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.