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Press Release No. 41 | 14 September 2016
Research Careers: Targeted Funding Creates Much Better Opportunities

Initial results from a current DFG study are presented at the 16th annual GAIN conference in Washington D.C.

Researchers funded through early career support programmes have a significantly higher chance of having a successful career in science and academia. This is a result of initial findings of a comprehensive study by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) on scientific career paths. The findings were released in advance to German early career researchers in the USA and Canada and representatives from the parliamentary/political sphere at the 16th annual conference of the German Academic International Network (GAIN) in Washington D.C. Presented by DFG Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek, the findings indicate – using the DFG’s Emmy Noether Programme and Heisenberg fellowship as examples – how effectively these funding instruments are at moving early career researchers in Germany further along the path towards a professorship.

For example, 63 percent of people who in 2007 and 2008 successfully applied for funding from the Emmy Noether Programme during an early phase of their career have since been appointed professor. By comparison, of those whose proposal did not result in a funding recommendation, only 29 percent have been appointed professor. Of the successful applicants from the years 2001 to 2003, more than 80 percent have since become professors. The pattern is similar with the Heisenberg fellowship, which is aimed at established researchers with the potential to become professors: of the successful applicants in 2007 and 2008, 83 percent now hold a professorial post; of the unsuccessful ones only 54 percent.

“The findings show that the DFG’s two early career grant programmes are achieving what they set out to achieve, at the highest level,” said the DFG Secretary General when presenting the results. This must also be considered in connection with current political decisions regarding science, such as the introduction of the “Nachwuchspakt” (Early Career Researcher Pact. “We must ensure that the funding successes and funding functions of the existing early career researcher programmes remain intact.”

The Early Career Researcher Pact provides funding for 1,000 additional tenure-track professorships. “For those funded in the DFG early career researcher programmes, there must not be an artificial extension of the scientific probationary period by the addition of a second tenure-track phase after funding,” said Dzwonnek. “Nor must tenure positions simply be moved into the tenure-track programme, leading to the closure of previously common tenure options, in particular for those who have, up to now, performed well in highly competitive procedures such as the Emmy Noether Programme.”

The preliminary findings of the study into career paths in DFG early research career programmes have also been published in a DFG Infobrief. The findings are selected results from a comprehensive study, which will also consider additional programmes relevant for early career researchers, investigating over 1,000 careers. In addition to the question of career success, mobility between institutions, sectors and countries will also be considered, as well as the submission of proposals and the success of early career researchers in other DFG programmes. Publication of the full study is planned for the coming year.

This year’s annual GAIN conference, where the preliminary findings were presented, was held in Washington for the first time. The opening speech was given by the President of the DFG, Professor Dr. Peter Strohschneider. New this time was the presentation of individual German federal states, which also play an important role in the implementation of the Early Career Researcher Pact. GAIN is the largest academic career fair for German researchers outside Europe. It is organised jointly by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the DFG.

Further Information

Media contac:

The DFG Infobrief “Karrierewege im Emmy Noether Programm und beim Heisenberg-Stipendium” is currently available in German; an English version will be published this fall. The German version is available at:

Comprehensive information about GAIN can be found at:

Contact at the DFG Head Office: