The decisive factor in the evaluation of candidates is intellectual quality, as judged by the individual members of the Academic Advisory Board and by the Board as a group. The members of the Board are scholars and scientists of international renown and broad academic experience who take a panoramic view of the individual application, taking into account prior research accomplishments, the promise of the proposed project, and the expectation that the candidate will contribute to and profit from the specific milieu of the Wissenschaftskolleg.
Discipline-specific criteria will be applied to judge the applicant’s prior research career (including first-authored articles, publication in leading journals, citations, scientific prizes, etc.). In the humanities, and in all disciplines in which monographs play an important role, the quality and influence of major publications will be weighted most heavily. In all cases, the applicant’s work will actually be read, not just counted.
The criteria of evaluation are adjusted to the applicant’s career stage: for early career researchers from the humanities and legal sciences, the quality of the first major publications plays an important role; with established researchers, emphasis shifts to how formative their influence in the respective field is or has been – including the international reception of prior research.
Independent of the applicant’s career stage, the project is judged in terms of the degree to which it distinguishes itself from existing research work, its potential to open up new research directions, and its narrowness or breadth of focus within the research specialty. There is no preference given to interdisciplinary project proposals, but narrow specialization within a discipline is disadvantageous.
The Wissenschaftskolleg aims to bring together an intellectually diverse group of researchers with representatives from a variety of scholarly and scientific disciplines, cultures, and traditions. With this goal in mind, researchers are also invited from countries and universities that do not have the same international visibility as the leading "Western" research institutions and systems. The criteria for selection in these cases emphasize the applicant’s position within her or his national research landscape and potential to benefit from a Wissenschaftskolleg Fellowship.