How can I apply for a Max Planck Research Group Leader position?
MPRGs are established as smaller, independent research units, often supplementing departments at Max Planck Institutes. The groups offer young male and female junior scientists who hold a doctorate an exceptional opportunity to further qualify themselves on a very high level. Under the guidance of the leaders, doctoral students and post-docs work together on a specific research topic. The leaders of the research groups are appointed by the President of the Max Planck Society for a five-year term.
When can I apply? And what are the details for the advertisement procedure?
You can apply on advertisement only. There are two adverts procedures:
(1) Advertisements for institute-specific positions
Depending on the resources and, importantly, space available at the respective MPI, these institute-specific positions are continuously advertised according to need. In general, the positions relate to a particular research field. Advertisements usually appear in scientific journals corresponding to the field as well as on the homepage of the respective MPI.
(2) Major advertisements for the centrally announced positions
These are usually published once a year in autumn, and are also placed in important scientific journals (paper and internet). These positions are not linked to specific scientific topics. Applicants state their past and future individual research projects, identify and indicate the institute(s) they would choose. However individual institutes may publish announcements when openings become available. These will be published in major scientific journals and on the homepage of the individual institutes. The next call for proposals will take place in fall / autumn 2019.
On which target groups do the MPRG-L positions focus?
This program is particularly suitable for excellent young applicants who have already held one or two post-doc jobs and who would now like to – and deem themselves apt to – head a group and to elaborate together on own research ideas independently. Please note that MPRG-L positions are only open to applicants who hold a doctorate.
What resources are available for MPRGs?
This strongly depends on the research field and its orientation (i.e., mainly theoretical or rather experimental?). MPRG-L are offered internationally competitive packages for personnel, start-up money, and yearly operating costs. The leader’s salary is similar to that of junior and assistant professorships or associate professorships in the U.S. The total financing sum corresponds to the level of first-class, international start-up or career development programs. Moreover, MPRG-L are bestowed a great deal of individual flexibility, if necessary, and can employ the funds allocated to them according to need.
What are the perspectives for a career afterwards?
Please see the introduction above.
Will I be expected to contribute to external teaching activities?
This is no formal requirement. However, you are free to commit yourself to the training of junior scientists at a local university.
Is there an age limit for MPRG-L positions?
No, there isn’t. However, the positions are aimed at talented junior scientists. Ideally, you obtained your doctorate a maximum of seven years ago (for a doctorate in medicine: nine years). If you have passed this limit, please explain in detail why you nevertheless deem yourself eligible for this 5-year-program.
Does a completed habilitation disqualify me from the start?
No, it doesn’t. A habilitation is neither a requirement nor is it considered a disadvantage. MPRG-L often habilitate at a neighboring university. Please note that the Max Planck Society is in any case not authorized to confer habilitations.
May I also submit in parallel applications to research organizations other than the Max Planck Society?
Yes. However, we would appreciate a notification in this respect.
Can I apply for an MPRG-L position at an MPI where I am already employed?
As regards your career plans, it may be better to give preference to a change. However, there may be good reasons for choosing the MPI at which you are already doing research as the best place for your future projects. The committee will examine these cases very thoroughly, and they will be considered only under exceptional circumstances. Prior to application, we expect you to inform the directors of your MPI.
Must the application and a letter of recommendation be written in English?
Yes please. Only applications and letters of recommendation written in English are accepted, since the selection committees usually include some international experts.
As concerns your bibliography, here, papers submitted for publication:
For the successful bibliography, committees in general only count published papers or papers that are in press. Papers that to date carry the status of submitted must be clearly marked as such.
12. As to the required three letters of recommendation: May my PhD thesis supervisor - or the MPI Director, to which I would like to apply - write such a letter?
Yes, s/he may.
The following 4 questions and answers specifically refer to type 2, the major advertisements for the centrally announced selection procedure:
Can applications or letters of recommendation be submitted on paper?
Unfortunately not. Only those applications submitted electronically by way of the database (and not via e-mail) and that are complete will be considered and evaluated. This holds for the required letters of recommendation, too
In past years, why have some Max Planck Institutes often not been included?
Not all institutes have always sufficient space to adequately accommodate an MPRG. Many institutes already house one or more groups and cannot offer further space in the foreseeable future. If you should nevertheless think that an MPI not on the list is the only suitable institute for you, please contact the MPI directors prior to applying. – Solutions may be found in the end.
On occasion of a central advert, should I contact the preferred Max Planck Institute(s) myself?
Yes, in any case. Both sides can hereby identify areas of mutual interest. Also, it can be determined whether an institute is generally interested in your research work plus whether it can provide you with space and admin resources.
What about the selection committees?
There are three sections in the Max Planck Society: the Biology and Medicine Section; the Chemistry, Physics and Technology Section; and the Humanities and Social Sciences Section. Each section has its own selection committee with members including directors at Max Planck Institutes and very often international experts.