Can I submit an application before finishing my doctoral degree?

Yes, as in the past, provided that you meet the other application requirements, and that you will receive your official doctoral degree within the anticipated processing time (about four months). In the case of acceptance (before officially receiving your doctoral degree), you cannot begin work on the project until you submit a copy of your certificate of graduation.

I have two PhDs/doctorates. Which degree counts towards eligibility for the ESPRIT Programme (doctoral degree awarded no more than five years prior to application)?

The subject-specific degree counts for the ESPRIT Programme (as in the START Programme).

Where can I create an ESPRIT application in elane? The ESPRIT Programme does not appear in the drop-down menu for selecting a programme.

Please note that the ESPRIT Programme is administered by PROFI. Therefore, after you log in to elane, you must first select the correct type of funding: “Application PROFI” (not “Application ad personam”). Once you have created a new application there, you can now select the “ESP – ESPRIT Programme” funding programme.

What are the advantages of the new Early Stage Programme compared to the Hertha Firnberg and Lise Meitner Programmes?

The planned model offers the possibility to submit applications on a rolling basis, more flexible funding amounts, an increased funding volume, and longer project durations compared to Meitner.

Do applicants have to be in Austria or have already conducted research in Austria at the time of application?

The territoriality principle does not apply to the ESPRIT Programme; therefore, there is no such requirement. However, applicants must find a mentor in Austria before applying, and the application can only be submitted by an Austrian research institute (PROFI).

Can I submit a previously rejected Hertha Firnberg or Lise Meitner proposal as a resubmission in the ESPRIT Programme?

Yes, resubmissions to different programmes are permitted, as in other FWF programmes, provided that they follow the procedures and meet the application requirements defined in the respective application guidelines.

If I am a principal investigator in the Lise Meitner or Hertha Firnberg Programme, am I excluded from applying to the ESPRIT Programme?

No, not in advance. However, in order to be eligible to apply, you must meet all the application requirements, e.g., you must have received your doctoral degree within the last five years.

I currently have a Lise Meitner or Hertha Firnberg application under review. Can I simultaneously submit an ESPRIT application?

It is generally not possible to submit parallel applications in other FWF early-stage researcher programmes (Erwin Schrödinger, Elise Richter, or Elise Richter PEEK). Since the ESPRIT Programme is the successor of the former Lise Meitner and Hertha Firnberg early-stage researcher programmes, you cannot submit an ESPRIT application until the decision has been made on your Meitner or Firnberg application.

If I am over the academic age limit, what proof do I need to provide of time spent raising children?

The FWF counts three years per child towards the time spent raising children for children born after completion of the applicant’s doctoral degree. Men must present adequate proof of any respective parental leave.

Can I use the ESPRIT Programme as my return option after a long stay abroad?

Yes, since the territoriality principle is not an application requirement, you can submit an application from abroad.

Does the mentor have to be employed at the same institute at which the project will be carried out?

No, this situation is possible and practical, but the mentor can also be employed at a different Austrian research institute.

Can I submit an ESPRIT application without a mentor?

No, a mentor and the submission of a corresponding career and mentoring plan are required.

May I have only one mentor?

One person must be the main mentor. Other people can take on additional mentoring duties, which has the advantage of providing you with a wider range of expertise.

Will there be a similar restriction on the mentors of principal investigators of an ESPRIT project like the restriction on co-applicants in the Lise Meitner and Hertha Firnberg Programmes?

No, there will not be any official restriction in the ESPRIT Programme on the number of mentees for which a researcher can act as mentor. Co-applicants from ongoing Firnberg and Meitner projects can also be mentors of principal investigators in the ESPRIT Programme. However, an ESPRIT proposal requires a detailed mentoring and career plan, which is part of the assessment of the proposal.

What should I consider when choosing a mentor? Does the academic title or gender play a role? Can this person receive project funding, say even for a few hours of work?

To be able to provide their mentees with excellent support in their long-term career development, mentors must be active and experienced researchers who are highly regarded in their discipline or their scientific community and who are well-acquainted with the national and international research context. It is important that they possess the relevant experience, enjoy sharing their knowledge, and have the ability to keep an open-mind and reflect. In addition, mentors should also show great interest in helping less experienced colleagues develop their skills and careers and have sufficient time resources.  

The degree to which similarities and differences between mentees and mentors in terms of research area, gender, and professional and life experiences are beneficial varies from person to person and cannot be answered in general terms. However, a trusting personal connection—regardless of academic title or gender—is usually considered an essential prerequisite for a successful mentoring relationship (see also: Grasenick K. (2017): Mentoring als Nachwuchsförderung an der Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz. Ein Handbuch mit praktischen Anleitungen für Mentoren & Mentorinnen. Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz: Koordinationsstelle für Geschlechterstudien und Gleichstellung. ISBN: 978-3-9501271-5-7; https://static.uni-graz.at/fileadmin/Koordination-Gender/Gleichstellung/web-BUCH-mentoringhandbuch.pdf (available in German only)). Mentors should take on their mentoring roles voluntarily, as no payment is provided for mentors.

Does the project need to include a budget plan?

If you are planning to apply for the “lump sum in the amount of €15,000 per year”, you do not need to prepare a budget plan. However, if you think it would be helpful in evaluating the proposal, you can include a description of the planned use of the funding requested in the application. If you are planning on applying for a higher funding amount of up to a max. of €25,000 per year, you must include a budget plan with a corresponding justification for requesting a higher amount of funding.

Can I simultaneously apply for a research project in a different funding programme?

Applicants for an ESPRIT project cannot submit parallel applications in the same or another funding programme for young researchers (Erwin Schrödinger, Elise Richter, or Elise Richter PEEK). However, applicants may request funding from the FWF in other funding programmes to carry out a separate research project, provided that the applicant meets the respective application requirements of the programme and does not exceed the applicable limit on the number of applications.

The FWF places particular emphasis in the ESPRIT Programme on the promotion of women. What does this mean exactly?

This means that the programme documents are designed to not disadvantage researchers who have taken career breaks and the requirements on CVs and the questions to the reviewers have been drafted with equal opportunities in mind. In the case of equal qualifications and equal quality of proposals, women will be given priority in the selection of projects. Women who are employed full-time receive a child allowance up to the third birthday of the child. In addition, the FWF provides women with ongoing ESPRIT projects with networking activities (annual workshops and networking meetings) and opportunities to increase their visibility.

Does the launch of ESPRIT mean that changes are planned in the programmes for more advanced career stages?

In the long term, it is planned to further develop and improve the programmes for more advanced career stages (i.e., the current Elise Richter and START Programmes). However, this reform is still in the planning stage, so for the time being (at least until 2021) both the Richter and START Programmes will remain as they are. For further information on this, please see our previous postings, for instance, here and here (in German). We will of course provide you with more detailed information in the FWF newsletter and on our website well before the changes are actually implemented.

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