Selection Procedure

european flag
Program co-funded by the European Union

Fellows are selected in a four-step procedure:

  1. Feasibility screening
  2. International peer review
  3. Structured interviews
  4. Approval by the university’s Executive Board

Each phase must be passed successfully to proceed to the next. Candidates will receive an identification code which will allow anonymized results of each selection phase to be published on a secure website. After completion of each phase, applicants will be notified by e-mail each time new results are announced.


Composition and Organization of Selection Committees/ Criteria and Method of Judging Merit

An eligibility check for completeness, timeliness of submission, meeting of published eligibility criteria will be carried out by DRS. Only complete applications will be subsequently evaluated in a four-step selection procedure. Successful candidates need to pass all four phases of the selection process:

1. Feasibility screening

Review of feasibility of proposals. Here the Focus Areas/ Excellence Projects check whether proposals fall within the scope of the Focus Area/ Excellence Project and are feasible. This includes making sure that the expected results of the proposed projects will contribute to the goals of the Focus Areas/ Excellence Projects and also that there is no duplication with research that has already or is currently being carried out.

2. International peer review

The Focus Areas/ Excellence Projects appoint two international peers per application. The experts are drawn either from the international advisory board or from international partner institutions of the Focus Areas/ Excellence Projects, and are selected according to their professional experience and proven expertise in the relevant discipline or field. Wherever possible, gender parity is ensured in these appointments. The experts evaluate the applications using an evaluation form provided by the DRS. The criteria are weighted differently:

  • Quality and level of innovation of the applicant’s project proposal with regard to the Focus Area/ 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%)

Applicants who obtain a score of at least 3.75 points (75% of the total points) are recommended for phase 3.

Special circumstances and personal commitments (especially family-related career breaks) that place applicants at a disadvantage may be considered. An additional 5% will be added to the score for each year of family-related interruption in an applicant’s career, up to a maximum of 25%. Part-time positions will be credited proportionally.

At the end of phase 2, two scored reviews have been produced for each eligible candidate. Dahlem Research School will invite candidates whose average score is above the threshold (75% of available points) to a structured interview conducted via Skype.

3. Structured interviews

The structured interviews are conducted via Skype or videoconference by subject specific panels that should consist of at least three Principal Investigators from the Focus Areas/ Excellence Projects and up to 3 non-university institutions, depending on the number of partner institutions of the respective Focus Area/ Excellence Project. Criteria and their weighting are detailed below:

  • Discussion of the planned research project: convincing defense of the proposed research (50%)

  • Convincing depiction of how the proposed research fellowship fits into the applicant’s career aspirations (20%)

  • Convincing presentation of the applicant’s CV (20%)

  • Candidate’s personal suitability for the relevant Focus Area/ Excellence project (10%)

During the interviews the panel members will consider ethical issues within the fellows’ research proposals (without grading).

The interview panel give independent scores. For each candidate, an interview summary report will be produced representing the combined views of the panel. Based on the overall interview score, Dahlem Research School will draw up a ranking list of the proposals that are above the threshold of 75% of available points placed in order of merit, for consideration by Freie Universitaet’s Executive Board. Should more than one candidate have achieved the same interview score, the peer review score will decide the ranking.

4. Competitive selection

Freie Universitaet’s Executive Board consisting of six persons: the President, 4 Vice Presidents and the Chancellor as Head of Administration

The Executive Board will discuss and confirm the top-listed candidates who will be successful. They monitor the overall selection process and ensure fair treatment of all candidates, especially that special circumstances which may place candidates at a disadvantage have been taken into account. In addition, a reserve list will be compiled consisting of those proposals that might move up if budget becomes available (e.g. following withdrawal of successful candidates). The remaining proposals that attain all the thresholds but for which funding not is available will be rejected for budgetary reasons.

Redress procedure
If a candidate believes that there have been shortcomings in the handling of their proposal, and that these shortcomings jeopardise the outcome of the evaluation process, they are able to submit a request for redress. An internal redress committee will examine any complaints. This committee will not evaluate the proposal itself. It is possible however, that the committee will recommend a re-evaluation of all or part of the proposal.

Such requests for redress should be raised within one month of the date of the feedback on the outcome of the relevant selection phase provided by the Dahlem Research School, and should be sent by email to