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Sofja Kovalevskaja Award

Call 2013 closed. Unfortunately, we cannot accept any applications for this programme at the moment. Next call expected: Spring 2015

Submit an application if you are a successful top-rank junior researcher from abroad, only completed your doctorate with distinction in the last six years, and have published work in prestigious international journals or publishing houses. The Sofja Kovalevskaja Award allows you to spend five years building up a working group and working on a high-profile, innovative research project of your own choice at a research institution of your own choice in Germany.

Scientists and scholars from all disciplines may apply directly to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The Humboldt Foundation plans to grant up to eight Sofja Kovalevskaja Awards. The award is valued at up to 1.65 million EUR.

The application submission deadline is July 31, 2013. The selection is scheduled for March 2014.

Other important details

Further information

  1. Doctorate or comparable academic degree (Ph.D., C.Sc. or equivalent), completed with distinction less than six years prior to the application submission deadline. Should it not be possible or customary to take a Ph.D. in your subject or country of origin, you may apply up to ten years after completing your Master's or Diploma Degree provided that your publication record is commensurate with a Ph.D. and your current career stage.
  2. Career level: the award would enable the successful applicant to take on a leadership position (e.g. head of a junior research group) in Germany for the first time. Moreover, the applicant must not have held or accepted an offer of permanent employment in Germany prior to the selection date.
  3. Cutting-edge academic achievements documented particularly by a comprehensive list of independent academic publications reviewed according to international standards and printed in journals and/or by publishing houses.
  4. Support of the German host institution, evidenced by a detailed expert's report from the academic host as well as the host's agreement and the confirmation from the administration at the host institution.
  5. Three supporting expert reviews from academics (at the applicant's own institute or other institutes, where possible including some outside the applicant's country of origin).
  6. Language skills: scholars in the humanities or social sciences and physicians must have a good knowledge of German if it is necessary to carry out the project successfully; otherwise a good knowledge of English; scientists and engineers must have a good knowledge of German or English.
  7. No previous Sofja Kovalevskaja Award.
  8. Origin: Foreign academics staying in Germany are eligible to apply if they been in Germany for less than six months at the application submission deadline. Educational residents are subject to the regulations governing Germans. German academics are eligible to apply if they have been working in an academic capacity abroad for a longer time. For more details please check with the FAQ.
  9. The Humboldt Foundation assumes that candidates will abide by the Rules of Good Scientific Practice and the legally-binding principles of scientific ethics during the application and sponsorship periods.
Applications shall be sent in paper form to the following address:

Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Selection Department,
Jean-Paul-Str. 12, 53173 Bonn, Germany

The Humboldt Foundation will confirm receipt of the application by email. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that he or she has submitted all the necessary documents. In the event of a late or incomplete submission it may not be possible to process and assess the application in the time available. Grossly incomplete applications will be returned to applicants unprocessed.

After providing all the documents and receipt of the host’s statement and the expert reviews, the application documents will usually be forwarded to three independent reviewers for written review. On the basis of these independent peer reviews a selection committee composed of about 25 academics from all disciplines reaches a decision on approving Sofja Kovalevskaja Awards. If an application has been approved the award winners and their host institutions agree jointly on the commencement of the planned research work in Germany in the course of 2014.

When submitting applications candidates may also apply to be informed about the reasons for a rejection should their applications be turned down by the selection committee. In this case, applicants and their hosts will receive separate notification on this issue in addition to the selection decision approx. four to six weeks after the selection committee meeting. It is not possible to appeal. However, applicants who have been rejected may submit a revised application response to a future call for applications provided that fundamental aspects of the original application have been manifestly improved and the then applicable submission requirements are met.

Further information

One of our hallmarks is the degree of support we try to provide for every single guest researcher. This is why we offer you extra benefits in addition to the award amount: from invitations to events to language courses.

Further information

Once a Humboldtian, always a Humboldtian: Even after your initial research stay has come to an end, we shall still maintain close contact with you. Our alumni sponsorship is flexible and designed to support every Humboldtian’s particular path in life and development as well as collaborations between individuals.

Further information

This programme is financed by the:

Application requirements

What determines the date of a doctorate?

The relevant date is that of completing the final academic part of the doctoral process (e.g., defence of thesis, doctoral viva). This date will usually be included on your doctoral certificate alongside the date of issue. The key date for calculating the period following your doctorate is the application submission deadline. If you already held an academic position equivalent to or higher than an Associate Professor/ Senior Lecturer/ Reader before completing your PhD/C.Sc. the relevant date is the one on which you assumed this position.

Which date is valid if I have several doctorates?

In the case of multiple doctorates, the effective date is that of the first doctoral degree (Ph.D./C.Sc.).

I obtained my doctorate more than six years ago. Can I still apply?

We cannot consider your application if you obtained your doctorate more than six years ago. If you have narrowly missed the deadline, an exception may be made in well-founded cases (e.g. recognition of parental leave). Please send us your CV and a list of your publications before you apply so we can advise you (info(at)

It is either not customary or not possible to take a doctorate in my country of origin / in my discipline. Can I apply?

You can apply if you can prove that your academic performance is equivalent to a Ph.D., e.g. by academic publications in internationally reviewed journals and for publishing houses. In this case, you can apply up to 10 years after your first degree (B.A., M.A., etc.). Please send us your complete CV (without gaps) and a list of your publications before you apply so we can advise you (info(at)

I'm a physician (M.D. / Dr. med.). Are there any special admission requirements?

You may apply if you hold a research doctorate or comparable academic degree.

For more details, please see our additional Admission Questionnaire for Physicians (MD / Dr. med.).

To what extent will parental leave be taken into account?

If you have ever interrupted your academic career for child-rearing purposes, either partially or completely, please list all periods of leave on the application form. We will assess whether these periods can be taken into account in calculating your eligibility in relation to your career stage. The time limit set by the programme for the period after completing a doctorate may be extended by a maximum of two years per child if you did indeed interrupt your academic career after completing your doctorate for the periods stated and claim for these periods. If you have any further questions please contact info(at)

I already am or recently have been in Germany. Are there any formal grounds militating against my application?

You can apply if
  • you have been in Germany for less than six months by the submission deadline.
  • following a stay of more than six months you have been abroad for more than twelve months by the submission deadline.
Prospective applicants who have completed their schooling and university degree or their university degree and doctorate in Germany are subject to the rules for German nationals (see following FAQ). You may not apply while or directly after completing a doctorate in Germany.

In all other cases we regret that we cannot consider your application. For information about other funding opportunities please refer to the Internet Portal EURAXESS Germany, which is maintained by the Humboldt Foundation.

I'm German / educational resident*. Can I apply if I'm working abroad?

If you are a German citizen / educational resident* you can apply provided that you clearly fulfil the requirements stated in the following. At the time of the application submission deadline, your uninterrupted, permanent place of residence has been abroad
  1. for more than 10 years or
  2. for more than 5 years, and your strong connections to your current country of residence can be deduced indubitably from one of the following criteria:
    1. You have a tenured position in your current country of residence abroad.
    2. You are in possession of a permanent residence permit issued by your current country of residence. Please note that a permanent residence permit which is based solely on your citizenship (e.g. EU-States) is no sufficient proof.
    3. You and/or your marital partner are a national of your current country of residence.
If in doubt, send us a seamless CV and list of your publications so that we can then advise you. Please state which of the criteria applies to you (info(at)

* Educational residents are candidates who have completed their school education and a university degree or a university degree and doctorate in Germany.

Can I apply for a Sofja Kovalevskaja Award if I am already a Humboldt Fellow?

The same rules apply to you as to other applicants, e.g. regarding periods spent in Germany.

Can I apply for the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award and a Humboldt Fellowship at the same time if I fulfil the formal requirements?

No, it is not possible to apply the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award programme and the Fellowship Programme of the Humboldt Foundation concurrently.

Do I need to know German in order to apply?

  1. Natural scientists and engineers: good knowledge of German or English is sufficient (language certificate required).
  2. Scholars in the humanities and social sciences: should have knowledge of German if it is necessary to carry out the project successfully. In this case, a German language certificate confirming proficiency must be submitted. Otherwise, a good knowledge of English is sufficient (language certificate required).
  3. Physicians: If the research project involves work with patients, the candidate must have a good knowledge of German (language certificate required). Otherwise, a good knowledge of English is sufficient (language certificate required).

English or German is my native language. Do I have to submit a language certificate proving my proficiency?

No, a language certificate is not required.

I have lived and worked in an English-speaking or German-speaking country for a long time. Do I have to submit a language certificate proving my proficiency?

No, a language certificate is not required.

Academic host

How can I find an academic host?

Applicants must independently choose an academic host. The Humboldt Foundation does not provide any direct support in finding a host. You can, however, start your search for research institutions in Germany on the Internet Portal EURAXESS Germany which is maintained by the Humboldt Foundation or on the portal Research Explorer. When selecting an academic host, please remember that you are choosing not only your academic, but also your personal living environment for the next five years.

Who is eligible to be my academic host?

The term "host" refers to the person who will act as the award winner’s direct academic contact at the host research institution, e.g., the chair holder or head of department in whose team you would like to establish a working group.

Can I conduct my research project with two academic hosts?

No. In particular, it is not possible to carry out the project at two different research institutions. Nor are there any provisions for changing host institute during the sponsorship period.

Can my doctoral supervisor also be my host?

In your research plan you should elucidate the scientific reasons why it is necessary for you to return to or remain in the academic ambit of your doctoral supervisor. Usually, we strongly recommend changing your academic environment, as such a change is considered a step towards academic independence.


What is the final date for submitting my application?

The submission deadline can be found in the Programme Information. This submission deadline is not an absolute deadline; however, in the event of a late or incomplete submission it may not be possible to process and assess the application in the time available.

Can I apply for parallel funding to another institution?

On principle it is possible to apply to another institution for funding at the same time. However, you must state this on the application form and inform us immediately about any parallel applications and decisions, even during the application procedure. Please indicate in the financial plan any third-party funding (e.g. German Research Foundation, European Union, industry) that has been granted for this project or for which you have applied.

Can I apply for a Sofja Kovalevskaja Award for more or less than the five-year period?

It is not possible to apply for a period in excess of five years. Applications for a significantly shorter period (less than about four and a half years) have no chance of success.

What is the earliest date on which sponsorship can begin?

The research stay in Germany commences in the calendar year in which the award is granted. The exact date should be agreed upon with the host institution prior to application.

What determines the award amount?

The financial plan you have submitted will be examined in an independent specialist review and by the members of the selection committee to ascertain whether your itemisation is plausible and appropriate. Their assessment will determine the award amount.

Will there be any support for taking German language courses?

The Humboldt Foundation is firmly in favour of award winners and their partners learning German during their research stay so that they can take an active part in social and cultural life in Germany as well as conducting research. On application, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is therefore able to cover the costs of a German course.

My partner would like to accompany me to Germany but s/he does not work in the same field. What opportunities are there?

The host institution is allowed to use a percentage of the administrative flat-rate to provide opportunities for partners in dual career relationships.

We would like to draw your attention to the site: Dual-Career Couples on the EURAXESS Germany portal.

Application documents

Where should I send my application?

Please send your application directly to the Selection Department of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Jean-Paul-Str. 12, 53173 Bonn, Germany. If this is not possible, you may submit your application via the branch offices of the DAAD or the German Embassy or Consulate, which will then forward them to the Humboldt Foundation.

Can I submit my application via e-mail?

No. Please send your application by air mail or surface mail.

What form should my application take?

Please do not use any application folders, clear plastic folders or loose-leaf binders to secure your documents but please submit the following:

  1. a filing fastener with all documents (apart from expert reviews and publications);
  2. another filing fastener with a copy of the application form, the commented list of key publications and the complete publication list;
  3. four envelopes each containing a copy of the key publications, including dissertation (CD-ROM).

You can find more information on the form of the application in the Guidelines for completing the application.

Should my expert reviews be sent directly to the Humboldt Foundation or enclosed with the application?

Expert reviews should be sent directly by the reviewers to the Selection Department at the Humboldt Foundation. Please ask your reviewers to use the list of questions for expert reviews. Reviews should not be more than 24 months old at the time of application.

What happens if expert reviews are submitted before the application is received?

Statements of the expert reviewers and the host that cannot be immediately matched to an application will be kept on file for up to six months and matched with the corresponding application when it is received.

Who is supposed to provide an expert review for my application and how many reviews are required?

The purpose of the expert reviews is to provide an assessment of your academic career and potential as well as your academic achievements to date. Therefore it is important that expert reviewers are well acquainted with your research work. Altogether, three expert reviews are required. Please note: The host’s statement does not count as an expert review! Additional information on the best way of selecting reviewers can be found in our Guidelines for completing the application.

Can more than three expert reviews be submitted?

No, only three expert reviews should be submitted for an application. Additional ones cannot be taken into consideration.

Which publications should I enclose in my application?

Your application should contain four copies of each of your selected key publications (bound copies/books) that demonstrate your previous outstanding achievements. Further publications will not be accepted (exception: reviews of your key publications by other authors).

If you wish to cite your dissertation as a key publication but have not yet submitted it for print, please enclose the original manuscript of your doctoral thesis (four copies on CD-ROM).

You will find detailed information in our Guidelines for completing the application.

May I include works that have not yet been submitted for publication in the list of key publications and the complete list of publications?

No. Please only cite publications that are already in print, have been accepted for publication or have at least been submitted to a publishing house. In the latter case you must include the acknowledgement of receipt from the publisher; in the case of publications that have been accepted, please include the letter of acceptance from the publisher. Any other works cited on the list will be deleted.
Exception: Your dissertation may be cited as a key publication even if you have not yet submitted it to a publisher. If you wish to cite your dissertation as a key publication but have not yet submitted it for print, please enclose the original manuscript of your doctoral thesis on CD-ROM.

What are key publications?

You yourself should choose the key publications from your publications. You should choose works which present your most important academic results. In cases of multiple authorship you should select those to which you have made a major contribution. When choosing key publications we recommend including works that reflect your more recent publication activity.
Please note that you cannot amend your selection of key publications once the selection process has begun.

How should I explain why I have chosen a key publication?

Please address the particular academic relevance of the results contained in the key publication and briefly explain the significance of the publication for your academic profile (cf. Sample key publications). In cases of multiple authorship please also indicate your own personal contribution to the publication.

Should my key publications also be cited in the complete list of publications?

Yes. Please cite all your publications in the complete list of publications, including your key publications. In this list they should be cited without explanations. (cf. Sample publication list).
Please note that it is not possible to amend the list of publications submitted to the Humboldt Foundation once the selection process has begun.

Research plan

You can find information on drawing up a research plan in the Guidelines for completing the application.

How do I draw up a financial plan?

You can find information on drawing up a financial plan in the Guidelines for completing the application. Here you will also find a sample plan.
Your financial plan will be assessed for its appropriateness and plausibility in the specialist review.

What position are Sofja Kovalevskaja Research Award winners expected to hold at the host institution?

The intention is that the award winner should conduct research as the head of a junior research group, largely without administrative constraints. In order to attract international top-flight researchers, it is therefore permitted to provide a salary drawn from the award amount that is significantly higher than the usual rates for junior researchers in Germany (see Programme Information for current rates). Beyond this, the Humboldt Foundation makes no further stipulations. The potential host institutions in Germany are, however, generally bound by regulations over which they themselves have no direct influence (e.g. public-sector salary laws). Moreover, options differ between locations and between types of institutions (universities, non-university research institutions, etc.).

Models for shaping the future position and salary or the personal income of Sofja Kovalevskaja Research Award winners may therefore also vary. They may include e.g. contracts outside the regular pay scale, fixed-term professorships (W1 and/or W2 salary brackets, sometimes ad personam) or tenure track offers.

In order to ensure that in the event of a positive notification your transfer takes place in a manner that meets your expectations as far as possible, we therefore recommend discussing which options regarding your position and personal income your intended host institution can offer you and at what conditions when preparing your application. Please note, this aspect has no effect on the selection.

Is it necessary to state the names of future staff?

No, it is not necessary to state their names on the application. Please ask your host about the titles usually associated with the positions in Germany. It is recommendable to discuss staffing matters with the administration at an early stage before making appointments.

What happens to any equipment purchased?

Any equipment purchased in the course of your research project will become the property of the host institution when the project has come to an end.

Selection procedure

Will you confirm receipt of my application, as well as other documents, expert reviews and the host's statement?

As soon as we receive your application, we will notify you (usually by email). Due to the number of applications, we cannot confirm the receipt of further documents, including expert reviews and the host's statement, separately. If, however, important documents or information should be missing from your application, we will notify you.

Who will review my application?

Your application will be reviewed by independent peer reviewers.

Who will decide on my application?

The final decision on all applications is made by the Selection Committee. The Selection Committee consists of researchers of all disciplines who decide on all applications by a two-thirds majority vote. The Humboldt Foundation has no vote on the Selection Committee.

When will I know whether my application has been successful?

The selection committee which makes the final decision on Sofja Kovalevskaja award winners is scheduled to meet at the end of March 2014. You will be informed about the outcome of the meeting immediately afterwards.

Will my application documents be returned to me after selection has taken place?

No. The documents submitted with your application will be archived for a period of seven years and then destroyed in a manner compliant with data protection regulations. So please only send copies. Books that you submit as part of your publication record will be returned to you at the end of the selection process. However, we assume no liability for lost or damaged books. Please consider whether rather than the entire books, photocopied excerpts might be sufficient to demonstrate your research results.

How much time do I have to submit further documents or update my application?

Please only submit complete applications. Your expert reviews and the statement from your academic host should reach us about the same time as your application. Once the review process by independent reviewers has been initiated, it is not possible to submit or exchange any documentation. If any papers or books that have only been submitted for publication at the time of application should subsequently be accepted, you should send us a copy of the acceptance letter immediately. This information can be fed into the process prior to the selection meeting. It is not possible to add to the publication list once the procedure has started.


What is the probability of success?

It will probably be possible to grant up to eight awards. In the previous selection rounds the probability of success was 10% to 15%.

What are the most important selection criteria?

The applicant's own academic qualifications are the most important facet of the assessment. Detailed information on the selection criteria can be found in the Programme Information.

In the context of my proposed research, working in a group is unusual or unnecessary. Can I still apply even if I work alone?

This is possible in certain cases provided that the circumstances are explained and documented. Usually, Sofja Kovalevskaja award winners are expected to set up and lead a working group.

Appropriation, use and provision of funds

Can award funds be transferred from one budgetary year to the next?

Yes, within the sponsorship period of 5 years.

How precise should the details on the "fund request" form be?

As detailed as possible to help the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation's budgetary planning.

By when should the entire amount of award funds be spent?

By the end of the sponsorship period. Any remaining funds must be remitted to the Humboldt Foundation.

How should travel expenses be claimed?

According to the regulations governing the host institution (e.g. the respective state law on travel expenses).

Is it possible to use award funds to finance the costs of an official mobile phone?

An official mobile phone may be financed from award funds ("expendable items/miscellaneous").

Is it possible to take a lump-sum from the award funds to cover certain very small expenses (mobile phone, meals on journeys, public transport)?

It is possible on principle; it is not forbidden in the regulations. How this "ready cash" is actually dealt with is a matter of agreement with the administration of the host institution.

Does the Humboldt Foundation subsidise moving expenses or may award funds be used to finance domestic moving expenses?

The Humboldt Foundation does not pay subsidies towards moving expenses. If an employment contract has been concluded, the regulations governing travel expenses for public service at the place of employment obtain (including the payment of moving expenses).

Which sections of the host institution are entitled to the administrative flat-rate? Is it paid directly to the department in which the administrative costs are actually incurred or could the central administration/rectorate also make claims?

This question has to be clarified with the host institution. In the agreement between the award winner and the host institution, as well as in the Regulations on the Use of Funds, the host institution in general is cited as the recipient of this lump-sum.

Is the amount of the administrative flat-rate based on the original amount of award funds or may accrued interest also be taken into account in calculating the amount?

The basis for calculating the administrative flat-rate is the original amount of award funds (excluding interest accrued).

Is it possible to use award funds to finance invitations to national and foreign academics to hold guest lectures etc. at the award winner's host institution? (Travel expenses, accommodation, meals, remuneration)?

Yes, based on the regulations and cost unit rates pertaining at the host institution.

I would like to take my group on a cultural/scientific outing, e.g. to Hamburg. May I use award funds for the travel expenses?

Yes, award funds may be used to cover travel expenses as the outing arises from the employment situation which, apart from a salary, also includes other social contributions (which may embrace a group outing).

May expenses incurred in connection with interviewing applicants for potential membership of the working group be financed from the award funds?

To cover expenses incurred in connection with interviewing applicants the relevant regulations obtaining at the host institution should be the determining factor.

May award funds be used to finance the cost of German language courses attended by members of the working group?

If attending a language course is the precondition for working on the project successfully and providing it cannot be financed from other funding - yes.

May the costs of entertaining (academic) guests be taken from the administrative flat-rate?

The Humboldt Foundation has no objections to using award funds to cover the costs of entertaining invited guests. And it is possible to use the administrative flat-rate for this purpose. In chapter III of the Regulations on the Use of Funds general information can be found on the sort of expenses covered by the administrative flat-rate.

We should like to set up a small kitchen with a coffee machine, fridge etc. for the staff and invited guests. May we finance these purchases from the award funds?

Yes, preferably from the proportion of award funds earmarked for the administration of the host institution as the administrative flat-rate. Upon purchase, any equipment and utensils immediately become the property of the host institution.

May research funding from other sources (e.g. third-party funding from the DFG, EU etc.) be applied for in addition to the award funds?

Yes. Please note that you are obligated to inform the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of applications for or receipt of (partial) funding from German or foreign sources. You are also obligated not to make use of any congruent sponsorship from funding deriving from German academic sponsorship. Your contacts within the administration will advise you. It is forbidden to duplicate financing for one and the same research project (double funding). If additional funds are granted for a subproject on a closely related topic (parallel sponsorship), careful attention should be paid to a strict division of budgets - especially when preparing the documentations on the use of funds. In the event of violations of these regulations the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation retains the right to reclaim part or all of the award money.

Human and material resources

How may or should I employ my staff?

The employment of staff should be based on the relevant legal framework regulations governing the host institution. All designated forms are possible, including employment contracts on the basis of the TVöD-/TV-L-tariff and fee agreements. In addition to this, the Regulations on the Use of Funds draw specific attention to the fact that fellowships may be granted.

Are there rules/guidelines on advertising positions?

The advertisement should conform to the relevant legal framework conditions at the respective host institution. As with all public presentations, at a suitable point reference should be made to the sponsorship by the Humboldt Foundation and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as donor.

In which geographical locations should positions be advertised? Only in Germany, or in Europe, or should they address academics all over the world?

Depending on requirements and target group, positions could be advertised in publications distributed worldwide.

We would like to draw your attention to the site: EURAXESS Jobs on the EURAXESS - Researchers in Motion portal. EURAXESS Jobs is a Europe-wide job exchange for researchers, where universities, research organisations and industry can post their vacancies.

Members of the working group not employed by the host institution do not have professional indemnity insurance. How can this problem be solved?

By taking out a professional indemnity insurance privately.

What are the regulations applying to the granting of fellowships to PhD students by comparison with postdocs?

The award-winner is entitled to earmark funds from the award money which the host institution may use to grant fellowships, particularly to scientists and scholars from abroad. The basis for determining the value of the fellowship should be the monthly instalments paid by the German Academic Exchange Service and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to graduate and post-doc fellows respectively (cf. Regulations on the Use of Funds, ch. IV, Personnel).

How flexible am I with regard to the amount granted for monthly fellowship payments and additional benefits? Can I deviate from the rates foreseen for Humboldt Fellows and DAAD Scholars?

Divergence is possible, should, however, be convincingly and soundly substantiated and should be noted in the files accompanying the documentation of payment. Possible implications with regard to tax liability are to be clarified in advance.

Does the Humboldt Foundation provide forms for managing fellowships (e.g. sample grant letters, sample declarations of acceptance)?

Yes, they can be provided on request.

Are representatives of the host institution signatories to the procedures involved in granting fellowships?

Yes, inevitably, as in the interests of the award winner, it is only the host institution which is entitled to grant fellowships. Cf. Regulations on the Use of Funds, ch. IV, "The host institution acts as employer on the award winner's behalf. The award winner is entitled to earmark funds from the award money which the host institution may use to grant fellowships..."

I am a doctoral student in the working group of an awardee and receive a fellowship from the Australian National University which will continue during the period of time I spend in Germany. As the cost of living in Australia is lower than in Germany I have been told that my fellowship will be raised to the level of the German doctoral tariff TVöD EG 13/2 (BAT IIa/2). Is it possible to use award funds to pay partial fellowships?

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has no objections to the planned increase in the fellowship up to the level of remuneration received by German doctoral students (TVöD EG 13/2 / BAT IIa/2). Information on granting fellowships from the award funds can be found in ch. IV (Personnel) of the "Regulations on the Use of Funds". These details also apply to granting partial fellowships.

Are there any special procedures required by the university in order to pay fellowships or can I simply choose those who should be sponsored by a fellowship?

The Humboldt Foundation recommends setting up an ad hoc committee for selecting fellows, e.g. comprising of the award winner, the head of department, an additional scientific member of the department and the dean or vice-dean. It is not out of the question that the award winner should "have a free hand" in selecting fellows. The act of granting the fellowship can, however, only be carried out by the host institution. At the Humoldt Foundation the following procedure applies: selection of excellence, documented by academic qualification, on the basis of specialist reviews and discussion/decision in the selection committee.

Is a fellowship granted in the framework of the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award free of tax? A German tax office would like to be provided with proof and is also asking for the Humboldt Foundation's tax number.

The Humboldt Foundation's tax number is of no relevance to the tax office because the fellowship is not an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellowship but a fellowship in the framework of the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award. In the framework of the Sofja Kovalevskaja Programme, it is the host institution which has granted the fellowship (see “Regulations on the Use of Funds”, chapter IV “Human and material resources”). However, these fellowships should be granted according to the regulations governing the granting of Humboldt Fellowships. We are then pleased to confirm that Humboldt Research Fellowships are free of tax in Germany according to § 3 No. 44 of German Income Tax Law. We, therefore, assume that fellowships in the framework of the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award are also free of tax in Germany providing the concrete case does indeed fulfil the definitive criteria for exemption from taxation. Any further information should be obtained from your host institution.

Are Kovalevskaja award winners themselves entitled to receive a fellowship from the award funds?

The Humboldt Foundation's regulations on the use of funds explicitly allow for part of the award money to be used for the award winner's subsistence. Whether the award winner chooses to be employed by the host institution (e.g. as a professor or member of staff) or whether he or she agrees to a different status at the host institution (e.g. self-employed guest academic) is a matter of individual preference. However, due to the implications for health insurance, social security and taxation, the Humboldt Foundation specifically disadvises award winners from drawing the part of the award money earmarked for subsistence in the form of a fellowship from the host institution or a third party.

Scientific equipment

Can equipment / scientific supplies be purchased for the project abroad and then brought to Germany?

Yes, if this is necessary for the success of the research project.

At my host institution procurement of scientific equipment takes up to six months due to the complicated call for tenders. This would delay the progress of my research project. Is it, therefore, possible to procure equipment in a less "bureaucratic" fashion or would this kind of procedure conflict with the Regulations on the Use of Funds which state that the award funds must be used economically and prudently?

The reference to an economic use of funds has to be looked at from the point of view of the amount of time available for the project, too. Without the necessary equipment the research work cannot be carried out, the objective of the award - international top-flight research - cannot be achieved. The pressure of international competition in the respective research field should also be borne in mind and this might mean procuring equipment quickly. These basic conditions and the costs which might be incurred for a stand-by phase caused by delay should be one of the aspects taken into account when discussing the economic procurement of equipment. If allowance is made for the aforementioned aspects the institution entrusted with the administration of funds does not infringe conventional allocation regulations by purchasing without a call for tenders because procurement must take place at speed [§ 3 No. 4 lit f) VOL/A].


Are the award funds taxable?

Award winners are responsible for all matters pertaining to their taxation. The Humboldt Foundation assumes that the award will be classified as a grant towards a research project in Germany and, as such, be free of tax. Whether the proportion of the award funds earmarked for covering living expenses is taxable should be examined individually. In this case, any existing double taxation agreements may be relevant. The laws in the award winners’ own countries or countries of residence may include special regulations on taxing awards. If in doubt, the award winners should contact a tax advisor in their own country.

When conferring fellowships funded out of award funds, particular attention needs to be drawn to applicable special tax regulations.

Exploiting research results - publications, patents and licences

In the acknowledgements included in publications ensuing from projects sponsored by the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award the Humboldt Foundation and the BMBF are supposed to be mentioned explicitly. Are there any standard formulations?

In publications and all other (especially public) presentations, appropriate reference should be made to the sponsorship provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as well as to the donor, the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. There is no binding standard formulation.

If it is planned to use the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation logo, the following needs to be observed:
  • The use of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation logo in any kind of communication is subject to strict rules. The logo and its constituent parts are a trademarked name and may not be reproduced without obtaining the express written authorisation of the Foundation in advance. The logo comprises three parts: the head of Alexander von Humboldt, the script nameplate and the bilingual addition "Stiftung/Foundation". These elements jointly comprise the inseparable word/image trademark. The logo and its constituent parts may not be copied, altered or truncated or integrated in other logos.
  • Use of the logo is authorised in publications and other, in particular public, presentations (e.g. conference presentations) of research results that were produced in direct connection with sponsorship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. For this purpose, the logo with the label "Unterstützt von/Supported by" may be downloaded from the password-protected section of Network Online in an electronic file format that conforms to the specific requirements for print:
  • Any other use of the logo requires prior written permission from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and must be requested in writing, stating the intended use of the logo.

If a patent is supposed to be registered in the framework of Sofja Kovalevskaja Award sponsorship should the Humboldt Foundation receive any kind of share in the patent?

No such provision for the Humboldt Foundation is foreseen in the Regulations on the Use of Funds. In accordance with the "Agreements between the award winner and the host institution" the provisions of the "German Employees Invention Act", (ArbNErfindungsG) apply. If a patent is registered, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation should be informed. Cf. also "Regulations on the Use of Funds", ch. VII.

May award funds be used to cover any costs incurred in registering a patent?

Providing the registration of the patent is covered by ch. VII of the Regulations on the Use of Funds, costs incurred may be financed from award funds.