Selection Procedure

The review process for the DRS -Fellowship COFUND consists of four phases which are further described below:

I)    Eligibility check

II)    International peer-review

III)    Structured interviews

IV)    Final selection by a supervisory committee.

Each phase must be passed successfully to proceed to the next. Candidates will receive an identification code which will allow anonymised results of each selection phase to be published on a secure website with limited access. After completion of phase 1, applicants will receive login details for the secure site and will from then on be notified by e-mail each time new results are announced.


I. Eligibility check

The eligibility check is conducted by the project coordinator and managing director of the DRS according to the published eligibility criteria.

Selection criteria:

a) Applications meet the eligibiliy criteria and are complete.

b) Applications are based on the research themes pursued in the relevant excellence program and feasible within the program’s scope.


II. International peer review

The excellence programs appoint two international peers per application. The selection criteria are weighted differently, in line with the general objectives of the COFUND program, and are as follows:

  • Quality and level of innovation of the applicant’s project proposal with regard to the excellence program (30%)
  • Convincing statement of purpose with regard to the research fellowship and the applicant’s academic career aspirations (20%)
  • Quality and level of innovation of the applicant’s doctoral dissertation, as evidenced by the abstract thereof as part of the evaluation (20%)
  • Academic or scientific excellence (in academia and/or industry), proven by way of the applicant’s previous professional experience, peer-reviewed publications, inventions, patents, prizes and awards, distinctions, etc. (20%)
  • Previous acquisition of approval for project proposals and/or interdisciplinary cooperative arrangements on innovative research topics, international and interdisciplinary mobility (10%)

Special circumstances and personal commitments (especially family-related career breaks) that place applicants at a disadvantage may be considered.

Applicants who obtain a score of at least 3.75 points (75% of the total points) are recommended for phase III.


III. Structured interviews conducted by selection boards of the excellence programs

The structured interviews are conducted via Skype or videoconference by an internal selection board consisting of at least three principal investigators from the relevant excellence program. The selection board prepares a list of applicant rankings and issues a recommendation to the external selection committee.

Criteria during the interview are:

  • Discussion of the planned research project: convincing defense of the proposed research
  • Convincing depiction of how the proposed research fellowship fits into the applicant’s career aspirations
  • Convincing presentation of the applicant’s CV
  • Candidate’s personal suitability for the relevant excellence program

Applicants who obtain a score of at least 15 out of 20 possible points (75%) are recommended for the final selection phase.


IV. Final decision by supervisory selection committee

The Competitive Selection and the final decision on admission or rejection will be the responsibility of the Supervisory Selection Committee. The committee will consist of four members of the Excellence Council of Freie Universität, two experts from international research institutions as well as two representatives from German non-university research institutions.

The Supervisory Committee will take the final decision based on the competitive ranking of candidates from phase II and the recommendations of the selection boards from phase III.