Requirements for the research plan

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 applicants' track record, the research plan also serves as a basis for assessing the researchers' scientific qualifications, particularly their 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.

Project funding – Evaluation procedure

The SNSF does not consider applications that do not meet the formal requirements and/or are manifestly inadequate.

The research plan must consist of original text that has been written by the applicants themselves. A limited amount of text (or other material, graphs, etc.) by third parties or text published by the applicants themselves is permissible in the sections concerning the state of research (2.1) and the state of their own 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.

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 uploaded to mySNF as a PDF (not write-protected). Please name the document "SciencePart_[Name of responsible applicant].pdf", e.g. "SciencePart_Smith.pdf".

The research plan must not exceed 20 pages and 80,000 characters (with spaces); this includes title or front page, summary, footnotes, illustrations, formulae, tables (and, if applicable, the table of contents), but not the bibliography. A minimum of point 10 font size and 1.5 line spacing must be used. In general, the research plan should not contain any annexed documents.

The research plan needs to be structured as follows:

​1. Summary of the research plan

In your summary, please present the background and rationale of the project, list its overall objectives and specific aims, mention the methods to be used, and briefly discuss the expected results and their impact for the field and beyond. The summary (max. 1 page) must be written in the language of the research plan.

​2. Research plan

​2.1 Current state of research in the field

Describe your project in the context of the current state of knowledge in your field. Make reference to the most important publications, particularly by other authors. Please describe:

  • which previous insights provided the starting point and basis for the planned studies
  • in which areas research is needed, and why
  • which important, relevant research projects are currently underway in Switzerland and abroad.

​2.2 Current state of your own research

Please present the research work you have already undertaken in the relevant field, describe the results obtained so far as well as the relevance of these preliminary undertakings for your project. For a follow-up to an already approved project, please report on the work conducted within the scope of the previous project and the results obtained.

​2.3 Detailed research plan

Based on the information provided under 2.1 and 2.2, please specify the approach you are taking and the concrete objectives that you aim to achieve in the period of funding.

  • Describe the studies or experiments needed and/or envisaged to reach the set goals. Assess the risks involved and propose alternatives if necessary.
  • Characterise existing sources and datasets and describe the data collection strategy and possible alternative strategies.
  • Explain the role of each member of the research team (incl. applicants, employees, project partners and collaborations).

Your description should be as detailed as is necessary to enable an expert to assess whether your methodology is appropriate and your project feasible. Please refer to the work described here in the budget you submit via mySNF.

​2.4 Schedule and milestones

Please compile a schedule that includes the most important milestones.

2.5 Relevance and impact

Scientific relevance
Please describe the expected impacts of your project for the discipline and for science as a whole (research and education/teaching). Please mention the form in which you wish to publish your research results (articles in science journals, monographs, conference proceedings, etc.).

Broader impact
If you have submitted your application in use-inspired research, please indicate whether and to what extent the proposed project will have a broader impact and what this impact will be. The following points should be addressed:

  • Define the need for research as perceived by practitioners/industry. Are there any knowledge gaps? What innovations and improvements are expected?
  • To what degree can the expected research results be put into practice?
  • In which spheres outside science could the implementation of the research results entail changes and what is the nature of these changes?

3. Bibliography

List the sources of all concluded and/or ongoing work referred to in the research plan. Give the full reference, especially the title, source and full author list. The bibliography is not included in the max. number of pages (20) and characters (80,000) count.

Revised applications

If this application is a revised version of a rejected application, please upload together with the research plan but in a separate document a point-for-point response to the critique raised in the rejection letter. This statement should generally not be longer than 3 pages, must be written in the same language as the research plan and must be named "revision_notes_[name of applicant].pdf". Point out significant changes/additions in the research plan, if applicable.