Programme Information: Feodor Lynen Research Fellowships for postdoctoral researchers

In providing Feodor Lynen Research Fellowships for postdoctoral researchers, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables highly-qualified scientists and scholars from Germany who are just embarking on their academic careers and who completed their doctorates less than four years ago1 to spend extended periods of research (6-24 months) abroad. Scientists and scholars from all disciplines may apply. Applications for research stays in Japan or Taiwan should be submitted to the JSPS Fellowship Programme or the MOST (Taiwan) Research Fellowship Programme.

All members of the Humboldt Network abroad may act as academic hosts for the Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship Programme. These include:

 Any scientists or scholars who have been sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation,

 Any hosts who have already supervised scientists or scholars who were sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation,

 Any (former) members of a Humboldt Foundation selection committee,

 Any participants in the Frontiers of Research Symposia organised by the Humboldt Foundation.

In addition, scientists or scholars who have been awarded one of the selected research prizes may act as hosts. The Humboldt Foundation can provide assistance with finding a host.

Applicants choose their own topic of research and their host abroad and prepare their research outline independently. Details of the research outline including information on the intended duration of the fellowship must be agreed with the intended host before applying. Short-term visits for study and training purposes or for attending conferences are not eligible for sponsorship.

The Humboldt Foundation expects the host to contribute to financing the research fellowship. Over the duration of the fellowship, the host’s contribution should account for approximately a third of the total fellowship amount.

However, host institutes in developing and threshold countries and in other selected countries (c.f. list of countries) are not required to make a financial contribution. If a host in another country experiences obvious difficulties in raising a contribution, the Humboldt Foundation may accommodate this particular case.

Candidates are selected solely on the basis of their academic qualification. There are no quotas for individual disciplines or countries. A candidate’s academic qualification is assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

– academic record and academic performance to date (mobility, determination, breadth of research activities, academic productivity)

– quality of key publications specified in the application (originality, degree of innovation, applicant’s contribution in cases of multiple authorship)

– originality and innovation potential of the suggested research outline (significance for the advancement of the discipline, convincing choice of academic methods, prospects for academic development of the applicant, clear focus and feasibility of realization within the requested funding period and at the chosen host institution)

– the applicant’s future potential (academic potential, further academic development, career prospects) 

Applications are assessed on the basis of independent peer reviews requested by the Humboldt Foundation. The final decision is taken by a committee composed of academics from all disciplines in the framework of the funding available.

A stay abroad in the framework of the Humboldt Foundation’s research fellowships for German junior researchers does not count towards the so-called “Twelve-Year Rule” in the University Framework Law.

Fellowship specifications

The provisions of the fellowship comprise a basic monthly fellowship amount and a monthly foreign allowance which may differ according to location and marital status. Family allowances for marital partners and children may be granted in addition. The estimated amount of the fellowship can be calculated with the “fellowship calculator” (Stipendienrechner).

Additional benefits:

– return travel expenses within reasonable limits (also for marital partners and children, where applicable);

parenting support for research fellows who are accompanied abroad by children under the age of twelve. This support can alternatively be applied for in the form of an extension of the research fellowship or as a reimbursement of costs for child care;

reintegration allowance for attending job interviews or participating in important careerpromoting conferences in Germany;

a return fellowship may be granted for a maximum of twelve months immediately following the research stay abroad. It allows fellows to continue cooperation with their hosts in association with a research institution in Germany;

alumni sponsorship following a successful stay abroad and return to Germany, especially financial assistance for participating in conferences and for short-term visits from or to members of the Humboldt Network abroad.

Application requirements

1. Doctorate, completed less than four years prior to the date of application. Candidates who have nearly completed their doctoral degrees are eligible to apply provided that they submit the manuscript of their dissertation or publications containing the results of their dissertation, however, at the earliest six months prior to the completion of their dissertation.

2. Academic publications reviewed according to international standards and printed in journals and/or by publishing houses.

3. Confirmation that research facilities are available and mentoring agreement and a detailed expert’s statement from an academic host at a research institution abroad who is eligible to act as such in the Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship Programme (see above).

4. Expert reviews from the doctoral supervisor and two other academics qualified to give wellfounded comments on the applicant’s qualification, preferably including reviewers not working at the applicant’s own institute.

5. Necessary language skills: good knowledge of the language spoken in the host country or at least a very good knowledge of English.

Potential applicants who have been in the host country for more than six months at the time of application are not eligible to apply. Academics who have already been sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation are not eligible to apply for the Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship Programme but should turn to the Foundation’s Alumni Programme for support of further research stays. as of March 2015

Application and selection procedure

Applications may be sent to the following address at any time:

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Selection Department

Jean-Paul-Str. 12, 53173 Bonn, Germany

Please be sure to only use currently valid application documents, which can be downloaded at the website of the Humboldt Foundation or obtained from the Foundation directly. The complete application should be submitted to the Humboldt Foundation at least four to seven months ahead of the prospective selection date. The selection committee meets every year in February, June and October.

The Humboldt Foundation will confirm receipt of the application by email. It is the applicants’ responsibility to ensure that they have submitted all the necessary documents. Applications not submitted as a single entity will take longer to process. Largely incomplete applications will be returned to applicants unprocessed.

After providing all the documents and receipt of the host’s statement, applicants will be notified about the proposed selection date. The application documents will then usually be forwarded to two independent reviewers for written review. On the basis of these independent peer reviews an interdisciplinary selection committee composed of about 20 academics reaches a decision on approving research fellowships. If an application has been approved, a fellow arriving from Germany may start the fellowship two months after the selection meeting at the earliest.

Fellows must start their fellowships within twelve months of the selection meeting; otherwise the fellowship will be forfeited. When receiving the information about the selection decision, candidates may apply informally by email to be informed about the factors which led to a rejection, should their applications have been turned down by the selection committee. In this case, applicants and their hosts will receive notification on this issue approx. four to six weeks after the selection committee meeting. It is not possible to appeal. However, applicants who have been rejected may submit a revised application provided that fundamental aspects of the original application have been significantly improved.

Further information on the selection procedure can be found in the FAQ on the Humboldt Foundation’s website as well as in the guidelines for a complete application attached in the application form.

Further details pertaining to the fellowship and to the research stay can be found in our Guidelines and Advice for Feodor Lynen Research Fellows. Moreover, the Rules of Good Scientific Practice apply both to applications and sponsorship.

Researchers who completed their doctorates more than four years, but no more than twelve years ago may apply for “Feodor Lynen Research Fellowships for experienced researchers”. as of March 2015

Further Information