Background on the Funding Portfolio
Restructuring of Funding Opportunities
Following the extensive modularisation of DFG funding instruments in 2011, in 2014 the organisation embarked on the systematic restructuring of its funding portfolio, considering the portfolio as a whole rather than individual instruments and their development. The guiding objectives were to
- simplify the transitions between funding instruments
- make the overall funding portfolio clearer and more flexible
- stipulate as few individual project specifications as possible, e.g. with regard to funding volume, number of participating researchers and discipline
- assign the DFG’s strategic funding objectives and the instruments suitable for achieving them a systematic place in the funding portfolio
The funding opportunities were also adapted to systematically reflect the DFG’s role and mission in the research system. According to its statutes, these are 1) to fund knowledge-driven research of the highest scientific quality and 2) to promote research by strengthening the research system and its organisations through the support of institutional core areas, research profiles and structural development.
The funding portfolio is now systematically structured as follows:
- The DFG funds research on the basis of approved project proposals and through the awarding of prizes.
- Project proposals describe a defined research project of specified duration. In accordance with the DFG’s role in the research system, they may be submitted by individuals or institutions.
- The focus of funding may be on the individual researcher or on the thematic or infrastructural aspect of the project.
- Research projects may differ in terms of work methods, division of work, the degree of organisational planning and implementation, and the forms of cooperation used within a project or between different projects. Where the focus is on a project’s research theme, a distinction is also made between forms of research.
In line with this structure, the DFG funding portfolio is divided into eight funding focuses: four on proposals submitted by individual researchers, three on proposals submitted by institutions and one on prizes.
The funding instruments offered by the DFG are grouped within these categories. Each instrument consists of individual modules, which are selected and combined on the basis of function, focus and form of research in the relevant category. Instruments such as the Emmy Noether and Heisenberg programmes, Research Units and Collaborative Research Centres are established ”labels” for certain combinations of modules.
As the funding portfolio is designed on the basis of the DFG’s role in the research system as set forth in its statutes,
- the different tasks of the individual funding instruments are easily and clearly identifiable
- there is a reliable foundation for the ongoing development of the funding portfolio and its adaptation to changing conditions and research needs
- the structure provides stability when encountering (rapid) changes in research policy preferences
- it clearly differentiates the DFG’s role from that of other research and funding organisations