Selection Process


Exploratory Research Space aims to make transparent and dependable funding decisions. This requires an appropriate evaluation process and an adequate selection of reviewers. In selecting ERS projects for funding, a well-defined code of conduct is adhered to. This code of good practice has been defined by ERS, generally following the Code of Good Practice published by Volkswagen Foundation. Reviewers have to adhere to this code of good practice.


Review / Evaluation Process

Schematic representation of the ERS Review Process Copyright: © ERS Schematic representation of the review process

First, the ERS Management Team will check whether the application for funding fulfills the criteria published in the call for application. In this context, interdisciplinarity is of particular importance, i.e. at least two faculties have to contribute to the research projects. Also, maximum length in terms of number of pages will be checked.

Two supervisors from the ERS Selection Committee will be assigned to projects. The chosen supervisors are expected to be unbiased, and they should have a background in a field which is closely related to that of the assigned project.

The selection of the reviewers is done by the supervisors. Those involve one or more reviewers from the research area of the project under review. Thus, there will be at least two reviews for each application, which facilitating a reliable and comprehensive assessment.


Code of Conduct

  1. 1
    Excellence: The aim of the project evaluation is to judge the scientific excellence of the proposal
  2. 2
    Absence of bias: All applications are assessed equally.
  3. 3
    Transparency: Nominations for funding follow a standardized assessment process. Applicants receive feedback on the results of the evaulation.
  4. 4
    Quality: The review process is conducted following high quality standards, comparable to other national and review processes.
  5. 5
    Confidentiality: All proposals and the knowledge, data, and documents contained therein will be kept in the strictest confidentiality.
  6. 6
    Ethics and Integrity: Proposals which fall short of the University's ethical standards will not be considered.

Project proposals with a volume of up to 60,000 euros will be evaluated in a university-internal review process. For project proposals with a volume between 60,000 and 90,000 euros, the assigned supervisors from the ERS Selection Committee decide whether the review process will be conducted by internal or external expert reviewers. Projects with a volume above 90,000 euro will be evaluated by external reviewers.

The evaluation is based on a formalized questionnaire. Criteria for project selection include originality, interdisciplinarity, subsidiarity (there is no opportunity for the project to be funded from other sources at the time of application), team structure, relevance (in particular with regard to the University’s institutional strategy), scientific approach, research plan, and research data management plan. Projects not meeting the criteria of interdisciplinarity (unless the call for applications states otherwise) and subsidiarity will not be considered for funding.

If both supervisors of the selection panel have strong concerns about the quality of the proposal, no peer review will be conducted in consultation with the ERS Steering Committee. In this case, the two reviewers will prepare a short report summarizing the main points of criticism.

If the number of eligible projects exceeds the available budget, projects may be selected by lottery. This procedure is only applied to projects that were found to be equal in quality and no ranking is possible based on the scientific assessment. In this context, we would like to refer to the eight theses for using a lottery process in the area of research funding, published by the Volkswagen foundation.

The projects selected for funding must be approved by the Rectorate.


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