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Applications relating to special personal circumstances / hardship applications

1. Submitting an application: Do I need disadvantage compensation due to unavoidable delays in my academic career?

When the DFG decides on proposals for funding research projects, the key evaluation criteria are the quality of the project and the anticipated results, as well as the prospects of success. The applicant’s previous academic achievements are also included in this overall assessment. In order to adequately assess an individual’s academic performance, their individual circumstances have to be taken into account as well. In this context, equal academic opportunities means making allowance for unavoidable delays in an applicant’s career.

The following circumstances in particular can lead to unavoidable delays in an academic career:

  • Pregnancy and birth
  • Childcare
  • Providing care for relatives
  • Disability, chronic or long-term illness (guideline: loss of academic activity of more than three months in a year)
  • Voluntary service, military or civilian service
  • Delays due to a pandemic
  • Switching between different academic systems, language acquisition
  • Refugee or political asylum experiences

If these or similar circumstances result in extended qualification periods, publication gaps or reduced stays abroad, appropriate compensation for such disadvantages can be requested when submitting a proposal. There is no obligation to disclose all circumstances listed above when submitting a proposal to the DFG since this information is essentially private. Nonetheless, voluntary disclosure may be useful in individual cases in order to explain gaps in an academic career that might otherwise appear unjustified. The request for such compensation can ensure that, despite unavoidable gaps in a curriculum vitae, only actual academic performance is evaluated in comparison with other applicants.

The dates of birth of children as well as time spent providing exclusively childcare (such as temporarily giving up work or working part-time due to family care obligations) can be listed voluntarily in a CV by persons of all genders. This voluntary information is to be taken into account by all those involved in the decision-making process exclusively to the benefit of applicants when assessing their previous academic performance. If needed, please include only the aforementioned points (“family care needs” or “[specific date of birth]”) in the curriculum vitae you submit to DFG, as this document is forwarded to reviewers and committee members. If you wish to voluntarily notify us of any other particular personal circumstances for consideration in connection with a proposal submission, the following applies:

Applicants who wish to voluntarily invoke other unavoidable delays in their academic career to be taken into account in the review and evaluation process must explicitly refer to the respective circumstances and, where applicable (if the circumstances are not self-explanatory), attach a brief explanation to the proposal. Please always use DFG form 73.01 linked below for this purpose and provide the DFG with the information on a separate sheet (separate from all the academic information relating to the proposal that is intended for reviewers and committee members). The reason for this is that the reviewers and the DFG’s decision-making committees are only informed about the period of time for which your academic career was interrupted and the fact that the interruption is to be recognised as unavoidable. In order to protect applicants’ personal data and privacy and that of their families, the concrete reason is not usually disclosed as part of the review process. Only an internal assessment is carried out by the DFG Head Office of whether such an interruption is to be recognised as “unavoidable”. In order for the period of absence to be taken into account appropriately, please be as specific as possible about its duration and amount. It is also possible to indicate a proportionate reduction in academic activity: e.g. “100% restriction on academic activity from 13 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 and 50% restriction from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021”.

If, in particular, such unavoidable delays result in formal programme criteria not being met (such as exceeding a certain period of time after obtaining a doctorate in connection with the Emmy Noether Programme), please refer to the relevant programme information and the “Interner LinkFrequently Asked Questions - FAQ”. If necessary, please get in touch with the respective contact person for the programme in question regarding possible beneficial regulations.

If you would like to submit an application for consideration of a special personal situation or hardship, the following DFG form regarding data protection (consent, DFG form 73.01) must always be attached. Without this form, the additional information voluntarily provided with your proposal cannot be processed.

2. Do I need other compensation for disadvantages when I submit a proposal or at a later stage – for example, if a special personal situation arises in an ongoing project?

For the personal circumstances mentioned under No. 1 above, special needs may also arise regarding project resources or project management, either in connection with proposal submission or at a later stage in an approved project. Such special needs can be:

  • Change in project duration
  • Change in the amount of work, a project manager or DFG-funded personnel can commit to the project (such as a switch to part-time work or complete absence of more than three months per year due to family commitments or due to a long-term illness)
  • Reallocation of funds (please refer to the regulations set out in the Funding Guidelines relevant to your approval)
  • Transfer of project management to another person (possibly with the intention of re-transfer at a later date)
  • Interruption of work on the project and re-start at a later date (e.g. due to a long-term illness of more than three months per year or due to family commitments).

In such cases, please seek individual advice from the DFG Head Office as to which of the aforementioned measures would be most appropriate to your personal situation and your specific academic project. Some of these measures can also be combined if necessary. If you would like to submit such an application for consideration of a special personal situation or hardship in connection with project organisation, the following DFG form regarding data protection (consent, DFG form 73.01) must always be attached. Without this form, the additional information voluntarily provided with your proposal cannot be processed.

3. How will your information on special personal situations/hardship applications be handled in the review and scientific evaluation of your application?

For information on this subject, see:

Further Information