Along with researchers who work on individual projects during their stay at the Wissenschaftskolleg, the Kolleg also regularly invites small focus groups of up to five persons to conduct research on a common topic. Focus-groups should be dedicated to addressing original issues that fall outside the parameters of individual disciplines.There are absolutely no restrictions placed on the range of topics for focus groups. The program does however target projects that require ten months of on-site collaboration in order to complete. The group’s disciplinary composition should be based on the substantive requirements of the chosen topic.
Current Call for Applications for Focus Groups
Focus-groups should be dedicated to addressing original issues that fall outside the parameters of individual disciplines. The group is free to choose its own orientation regarding content. This “experimental mode” especially benefits from heterogeneous constellations of different disciplines, cultures or generations. Because the Kolleg has few applications from the natural and technical sciences, preference will be given to scientists from these disciplines when their group topic is at least of equal quality to other applications.
The decisive preconditions for a fruitful Fellow residency for focus group participants are the same as for individual Fellows: intellectual curiosity, interest in disciplines not one’s own, and readiness to discuss beyond the limits of one’s own specialized interest.
Scientists and scholars with a doctorate who have not yet held a full-year fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin are eligible to apply. Applicants may not be working together at the same institution or in an already funded joint project. As a rule, applicants must have published at least one monograph or several articles in prestigious journals. As with the individual fellowships, applications by young researchers are welcome. The same preconditions apply.
Research projects that require the constant absence of individual focus group participants (in labs, archives, or other facilities outside of Berlin) are not suitable for a focus group.
Reapplications are only possible with a new project and, at the earliest, five years after your last rejected application.
Researchers affiliated with Berlin institutions of higher learning cannot be considered for participation in focus groups.
Applications for focus groups consist of two parts: the overarching application for the focus group and the individual applications of the participants.
Each participant in a focus group is judged on the basis of his or her individual achievement. The individual applications are judged on the basis of previous research achievements, the quality of the submitted project proposal in the framework of the focus group, and the individual applicant’s ability to engage in multidisciplinary discussion. Accordingly, the criteria listed for the selection of individual fellowships are applicable here, as well.
Independently from the individual applications of its participants, the submitted focus group project is judged by where it seeks to take new directions. An interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach is not regarded as a value in itself, but is a value only if it leads to an interesting examination of a question.
Applications for focus groups can be submitted in response to the annual public call for applications.
Interested scholars are asked to hand in a preliminary application. After an initial selection round, successful applicants are invited to submit a full proposal. The merits of each proposal are then discussed by a review panel which takes external expertise into account. The proposals that have passed the preselection process are subsequently presented to the Wissenschaftskolleg’s Academic Advisory Board, and the final decision is rendered by the Kolleg’s Rector.
Essential for the selection procedure are the comparative weighing and evaluations of the candidacies in terms of discipline-specific selection criteria and the composition of the Fellow “class”.
The qualitative judgment comprises considerations of research achievements, the evaluation of the stringency and originality of the submitted overarching project and of the individual projects, and careful reading of the selected publications.
All persons taking part in the selection of candidates are requested to reveal any possible conflict of interest in the decision-making process. This is based on the rules passed in 2018 to avoid conflicts of interest.