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Your First Proposal – Useful Information on Submitting Proposals

Are you a researcher and full of ideas you would like to implement through your own research projects? You will find suitable funding instruments at DFG.

On the road to scientific independence, your first independent project lays the foundation stone for your future career. It is, therefore, particularly important to DFG to encourage early-career researchers to submit independent proposals. Of course, fundraising is not child’s play: the proposal process is complex and competition is fierce. There is, however, no special trick to applying. And besides, there is a first time for everything!

If you have an interesting project idea and some research experience, do not hesitate to submit a proposal. You have the same chances of receiving DFG funding as an experienced researcher – provided, of course, that your project proposal is convincing. The review process takes into account the length of time a particular applicant has been actively involved in research.

We have compiled some important information and notes to help you submit your first proposal. These are specifically addressed to less experienced applicants and are intended to illustrate the formal guidelines.

  • The Notes on Submitting Proposals for Individual Research Grants are currently under review to account for the changes in the context of modularization.

Selecting the Appropriate Funding Instrument

Carefully choosing an appropriate funding instrument is the basis for a successful proposal submission. Always select the programme which fits your project idea, rather than trying to modify your idea to suit a particular programme. Of the range of funding options offered by DFG, the following two programmes are particularly suitable for less experienced researchers:

  • If you are planning to carry out a fixed-term, topically defined research project in Germany, you would normally select the individual grants programme. This programme forms the core of research funding provided by DFG and will also give you the opportunity to fund your “temporary position for principal investigators”, if needed.

  • If you want to carry out a topically and temporally defined research project abroad (for a maximum of two years), you may choose the research fellowship. Whether you plan a research stay at a renowned lab in China or archive studies in an important American collection, research fellowships enable you to familiarise yourself with new research methods through your own project, or even to complete a larger one – and all at the most suitable location. Working at a renowned foreign institution will give you experience which will be useful to you later in your scientific career.