Early autonomy and a budget of your own

Early autonomy and a budget of your own

January 11, 2017

Max Planck Research Groups offer junior scientists who hold a doctoral degree an excellent opportunity to qualify for a further career at a high level. Leaders of these groups are appointed by the President of the Max Planck Society and – similar to directors at Max Planck Institutes – enjoy an independent status within the Institute.

Max Planck Research Groups (MPRG) are limited to five years; extension is only possible for groups that exhibit convincing research performance. Tenure is granted in exceptional cases only. The groups draw on infrastructure and administration of a Max Planck Institute (MPI) but are also provided considerable funds for personnel, equipment and running costs, negotiable funds that enable the group leaders to flexibly engage in their research project.

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Subsequent positions of Max Planck Research Group Leaders
Subsequent positions of Max Planck Research Group Leaders

As to steps in the career, more than two-thirds of all Max Planck Research Group Leaders (in the following referred to as MPRG-L) – both men and women – jumped to so-called W2 or W3 (for Germany) positions or similar posts at a university or research institution in Germany or abroad. Approximately one in six is eventually appointed Scientific Member and Director of the Max Planck Society, possibly after an intermediate position elsewhere.

Currently, there are approximately 120 active MPRGs. Please note that there are two types of MPRGs, which differ in some respects:

“Institute-Specific Group” (“institutseigene Forschungsgruppe”), that is, groups in conjunction with the MPI. These are usually related to the institute’s activities in terms of research topics. Group leader positions are advertised by the MPI itself.

For “Centrally Announced Groups” (“themenoffene Forschungsgruppe”) suggestions for individual research projects are submitted on occasion of the centrally announced, major advertisement campaign where the Max Planck Society – based in the Headquarters in Munich - searches for group leaders. Young scientists may apply to a MPI of their choice - provided that all MPIs participate. These adverts are usually published once a year (in autumn) on the career portal of the Max Planck Society website, in the job ad columns in specialized internationally renowned journals and in online job markets.