Careers - submitting an application
How and when can I submit a career funding application to the SNSF? What requirements do I have to fulfil? The following sections answer these and other relevant questions to assist applicants in writing and submitting applications on time.
The explanations on how to submit an application to the SNSF are primarily based on the Funding Regulations and the regulations on specific career funding schemes. Their sole purpose is explanatory and it does not in any circumstances substitute the mentioned regulations.
How to submit an application: the most important points in brief
User account on mySNF
Applications must be submitted to the SNSF online via the mySNF platform; you need to apply for a user account in good time.
The career funding schemes are open to all disciplines and topics (exception: Doc.CH). They are primarily geared at people and make contributions towards living costs (with the exception of Ambizione project grants) as well as towards project costs to a lesser or greater degree. Applications may be submitted by young researchers working in Switzerland or researchers who have entertained links with a Swiss research or education institution for several years. An exception to this rule is Ambizione and PRIMA, for which also foreign researchers without links to Switzerland can apply, provided that a Swiss research institution is willing to act as their host.
Before starting to write an application
Applicants must ensure that they fulfil the personal and formal requirements as well as any other requirements specific to submitting a proposal at the SNSF in accordance with the Funding Regulations and the regulations on specific funding schemes.
Preparing an application
Some parts of the application can be prepared in advance and uploaded as PDF documents once your account has been activated. This applies, in particular, to the research plan, the CV and the publication list (for Ambizione, the new CV format already applies). Please enter all other data online in mySNF, in particular administrative and financial data.
For Doc.CH, Ambizione, PRIMA and Eccellenza applications, your proposal must include a data management plan (DMP). The content of the DMP has to be directly entered in the mySNF submission form. It is not possible to upload a DMP as a separate PDF file. Applicants must enter a DMP that is understandable, suits their project and meets the standards set by their research community.
At this stage, the DMP is considered a draft and excluded from the evaluation process. The definitive DMP must be provided by the end of the project at the latest. Please keep in mind during the submission procedure that the preparation of the DMP may possibly take a few hours.
Submitting an application
Applications need to be submitted online via mySNF by the relevant deadline by 17.00h Swiss local time. Submission deadlines vary depending on the funding scheme. On mySNF, help texts offer basic advice on entering data online. The Administrative Offices of the SNSF examine whether the formal and personal requirements are met, contact applicants if necessary and, if everything is in order, forward the application for scientific evaluation.
Evaluation procedure and decision
The evaluation procedure is explained under Evaluation procedure: Careers (generally valid aspects) and in the regulations on specific schemes. The final decisions are communicated to applicants in the form of a ruling two to ten months after the submission deadline (depending on whether it is a one-stage or a two-stage procedure).
Setting up a mySNF user account
SNSF applications must be submitted via the mySNF platform. You can request a user account on the site; the login information will subsequently be sent to you by post. To guarantee access in good time, new user accounts must be requested no later than five working days before the relevant submission deadline. Your mySNF access will remain in place for future submissions or for the lifetime management of approved projects.
On mySNF, help texts offer basic advice on entering data online and on completing individual data containers.
Clarifications before drafting an application I
During initial preparations, applicants should ensure that they fulfil the personal requirements and have the necessary track record as specified in the regulations of the chosen funding scheme (see Funding: Careers) and the Funding Regulations. They should also clarify questions regarding the host institution:
- Personal requirements: applications may be submitted by natural persons who are conducting research in Switzerland as doctoral students or postdocs, or Swiss researchers who would like to return to Switzerland after a stay abroad. Researchers who are foreign nationals must have entertained links with Switzerland for several years. Ambizione and PRIMA represent an exception: they are also geared at young, foreign scientists who do not have any links to Switzerland but wish to continue their careers here. However, like all other applicants, they too require the support of a Swiss research institution (host institution). Further requirements for specific schemes can be found in the regulations on the relevant funding schemes.
- Scientific track record: the necessary scientific experience is defined in the regulations concerning the chosen funding scheme. Some schemes have specific requirements with regard to past mobility (experience abroad).
- Host institution: the procedure for conducting the project should be discussed with the host institution. The host institution must provide a letter of support and declare that it is willing to give the applicant access to the necessary infrastructure during the period in question.
Clarifications before drafting an application II
Before drafting an application, applicants should clarify and consider the following points pursuant to the regulations concerning the chosen funding scheme (see Careers) and the Funding Regulations:
- Formal requirements for applications: apart from the majority of disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences, applications need to be written in English. Furthermore, the research plan, CV including major scientific achievements and research output list must meet the requirements stipulated by the SNSF. Applications must be complete and submitted on time.
- Multiple applications: in principle, applications should not be submitted to more than one SNSF funding scheme at the same time. Applicants who nonetheless wish to apply to several schemes should discuss their specific situation with the SNSF first. Multiple submissions must be mentioned in all applications. For certain funding instruments, parallel submissions are not allowed. Applicants who submit identical or thematically overlapping applications to the SNSF and to other funding organisations during the same period, will be obliged to inform the SNSF about the status and outcome of the evaluation procedure being carried out at the other organisation. The SNSF does not support research that is already funded by other organisations.
- Costs: all career funding schemes cover living costs (by means of a salary or fellowship) except for Ambizione project grants. Some funding schemes may also cover research costs and other costs (publication costs, travel, etc.). Ambizione, PRIMA and SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowships also allow applicants to request funding for a substantial research project in addition to their own living costs. Rates and rules for specific schemes with regard to salary, research and project costs can be found in the guidelines for the relevant scheme. Costs for granting access to research data (Open Research Data) are eligible.
Preparation of application: creating the upload documents
Depending on the funding scheme, different documents need to be uploaded to mySNF.
The research plan provides the basis for scientific evaluation, particularly of the quality of the proposed research project, i.e. its scientific relevance, topicality, originality, feasibility, and the suitability of its methods. Together with the CV and the applicant's track record, the research plan also serves as a basis for assessing the researcher's scientific qualifications, particularly his/her expertise with regard to the project.
The SNSF's requirements with regard to the form and content of the research plan help to ensure the comparability of applications. This is an important prerequisite for a comparative evaluation based on the principle of competition and for the equal treatment of all applicants.
The research plan must consist of original text that has been written by the applicant himself/herself. A limited amount of text (or other material, graphs, etc.) by third parties or text published by the applicant himself/herself is permissible in the sections concerning the state of research (2.1) and the state of his/her personal research (2.2) as well as when describing standard methods. The quoted texts must be clearly designated as such (quotation marks or appropriate wording) and a verifiable source must be mentioned nearby and in the bibliography. The SNSF uses a special software to compare texts and analyse suspected cases of plagiarism. A number of universities have made such programs available to their students and employees. We recommend that you contact your institution for further information. For more details see the SNSF dossier on scientific integrity.
In mathematics, natural and engineering sciences, biology, medicine, psychology, economics and political sciences, applications have to be submitted in English. In all other research areas, applications can be submitted in one of the official Swiss languages. Special rules apply for political sciences.
The research plan needs to be structured according to the requirements set out in the guidelines for specific funding schemes and must be uploaded to the corresponding document container on mySNF as a PDF (with editing protection disabled).
Instructions for CV and major achievements
The SNSF has signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which recommends funders to be explicit about the criteria used in evaluating the scientific productivity of applicants.
The scientific quality, value and impact of the entire research output is taken into consideration (including datasets, software, prototypes) in addition to research publications. In this context, the scientific content of a paper is much more important than publication metrics or the name of the journal in which it was published. Within the scope of this evaluation, the scientific discipline, academic age and personal situation (e.g. career breaks, care duties) of the applicants will be considered.
In order to comply with the DORA, the SNSF requests a standardised set of information from all applicants. The documents must be uploaded to the corresponding document container on mySNF (with editing protection disabled).
Instructions Ambizione (and instruments with deadlines as of 2023)
The SNSF defined a new structure for the CV and requests a standardised set of information from all applicants. Specifically, applicants will have to compile their CV according to a new template on the SNSF Portal and subsequently upload a PDF in the data container “CV and major achievements”.
The portal can be accessed under portal.snf.ch.
Instructions funding instruments with submission deadline before 30.9.2022 (Postdoc.Mobility and Doc.CH)
CV and major scientific achievements
The CV and the major scientific achievements need to be structured according to the requirements set out in the guidelines for specific funding schemes and should be written in the same language as the research plan. Changes of institution (mobility) should be clearly indicated in the CV. The CV should also document events that might have influenced or delayed research and publication activities (long absences due to illness, family commitments, etc.). All dates should include month and year.
Research output list
In the selection process, the list of research results is used as the basis for evaluating an applicant’s scientific productivity and qualifications in the context of the proposed project, and for assessing his/her ability to successfully carry out and document a research project. Both aspects are also taken into account for the assessment of the feasibility of the proposed research project.
Depending on the field of research, a deduction may be made from the position of the applicant in the list of authors regarding his/her contribution to a scientific publication (cf.: Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences – Scientific Integrity – Principles and Rules of Procedure). Alongside other aspects, the number of publications by an applicant as responsible author, without any contribution from his/her PhD or postdoc supervisor, is considered as an indicator for his/her scientific independence. For all publications listed from the postdoctoral time, the applicant should give a very short comment on her/his contribution; in particular for publications with several authors, where the applicant is not first or last author, or for disciplines where the authors are in alphabetical order.
In addition to publications, the list of research results should also include other research outcomes such as patents, contributions to conferences, PR activities, etc.
The career plan needs to summarise the further scientific and academic development planned and should clearly state the career goal.
Depending on the scheme, further upload documents with additional information may be required.
Further requirements for specific funding schemes concerning the creation of upload documents are set out in the guidelines for the relevant funding scheme.
Data Management Plan
The Doc.CH, Ambizione, PRIMA and Eccellenza applications must include a Data Management Plan (DMP) set up according to the requirements issued by the SNSF. The content of the DMP is directly entered in the mySNF submission form. It is not possible to upload a DMP as a separate PDF file.
The DMP is an integral part of the grant proposal. The proposal can only be submitted once the DMP has been completed. Applicants must enter a DMP that is understandable, suits their project and meets the standards set by their research community. Please keep in mind the time needed to complete the DMP during the submission procedure.
At this stage, the DMP is considered a draft and excluded from the evaluation process. The definitive DMP must be provided by the end of the project at the latest.
Creating applications in mySNF
In the mySNF entry mask, the option "Create new application" is to be selected. To do so, the applicant navigates to the appropriate scheme under "Careers" (e.g. Ambizione). Once the applicant has decided whether to enter an application from scratch or use one of his/her previous applications as a template, the data containers that need to be filled in will be displayed in the menu bar.
The data concerning the applicant and the application are to be entered in the entry mask. The data concerning the application includes, in particular, the title, the discipline(s), keywords, any links to other projects and applications, scientific collaborations as well as requested and available funds.
On mySNF, help texts offer basic advice on entering data online and on completing individual data containers.
Submission to the SNSF and communication of the decision
Submission deadlines for career funding applications vary depending on the funding scheme. Applications need to be submitted online via mySNF by the relevant deadline. The Administrative Offices examine if the submitted applications fulfil the submission requirements based on the Funding Regulations and if the rules of scientific integrity are respected. If this is the case, the SNSF decides to consider the application and forwards it to the Research Council for evaluation; if the requirements are not met, the application is not considered.
The Administrative Offices of the SNSF check whether the application complies with the rules of scientific integrity. In particular, the SNSF uses a special software to compare texts and analyse suspected cases of plagiarism. A number of universities have made such programs available to their students and employees. Should there be any indications of scientific misconduct, all processing of the application is suspended till such time as the application is cleared of suspicion through an investigation. If the suspicion is confirmed, the SNSF may impose sanctions (see Regulations of the National Research Council on the treatment of scientific misconduct by applicants and grantees).
Prior to and during the submission of applications, the applicants can address their queries and requests for information to the Administrative Offices of the SNSF. After the submission and when checking submitted proposals, the Administrative Offices may contact applicants in order to clarify issues related to the proposal. Before, during and after the evaluation, the applicants are obliged to:
- provide any information requested by the SNSF;
- cooperate in clarifying facts;
- inform the SNSF about any new facts that may be relevant to the funding decision.
The SNSF does not provide any information concerning applications while the evaluation is in progress and until the decision is communicated in written form.
Depending on the funding scheme and on whether a one-stage or a two-stage procedure is applied, the SNSF informs applicants of the final decision by means of a ruling two to ten months after the relevant submission deadline. The earliest possible start of a funded project is announced with the relevant call.
The evaluation procedure is explained under "Evaluation procedure: Careers" (generally valid aspects) and on the pages of specific schemes. In addition, the document "Career funding schemes - an overview" provides a brief overview of submission deadlines and evaluation procedures.
Appealing against a decision
An appeal may be filed against SNSF rulings with the Federal Administrative Court in St. Gallen, within 30 days of their announcement pursuant to Art. 13 of the Research and Innovation Promotion Act. A notice of appeal must include
- the prayers for relief,
- the grounds for appeal and details of the evidence,
- and it must be signed by the appellant or his or her representative.
The ruling appealed against and the documents cited as evidence must be enclosed insofar as they are in the appellant's possession. The court will demand an advance payment to cover procedural costs.
The SNSF advises applicants to contact the Administrative Offices of the SNSF in advance in order to obtain information about the appeal procedure. This does not affect the appeal period of 30 days.