Doc.CH: SNSF support for 27 PhD students in the social sciences and humanities

129 researchers applied for a Doc.CH grant in spring. Now, the SNSF is funding 27 new doctoral theses.

Created in 2013 to strengthen SNSF support for PhD students, the Doc.CH funding scheme enables promising researchers in the social sciences and humanities to request a grant for their PhD project.

By the end of the 19th call for proposals on 15 March 2022, the SNSF had received 129 applications, 78 in the humanities and 51 in the social sciences.

38 applicants invited for an interview

After an initial review of the projects, the evaluation panels recommended 38 applications for the second phase. Candidates were invited to present their thesis project in a personal interview.

In July 2022, the SNSF then awarded 27 Doc.CH grants (16 in humanities, 11 in social sciences). The grantees will be starting their projects at eight Swiss higher education institutions. They have been awarded an average amount of 214,000 francs, which covers their project costs and salary. Grants last from two to four years, with the average duration being 42 months.

Rich diversity of research topics

Grants have been awarded for a wide range of topics. For example, the project of Flavia Hug (ETH Zurich, economics) aims to identify barriers to accessing social assistance programmes through a large-scale field study. Maia Müller (University of Lausanne, history) will examine the reactions of international business associations to attempts at regulating multinational companies between the 1960s and the 1990s. Maksy Youssef Abboud (University of Geneva, political science) is interested in how fragmentation and alliances of non-state actors have affected the intensity of the civil war in Syria.

Openness to new horizons

Before submitting their project to the SNSF, applicants for a Doc.CH grant must obtain the support of two people. The first person, the thesis supervisor, must be employed at the same higher education institution in Switzerland as the applicant. The second person, the thesis co-supervisor, must work at a different higher education institution in Switzerland or abroad. Thus, doctoral students funded under the Doc.CH scheme carry out their project in collaboration with two higher education institutions. This requirement enables early-career researchers to benefit from greater mobility, to become familiar with different academic cultures early in their scientific career, and to expand their network. Of the researchers supported in the 19th call for proposals, about 70% will carry out their project in collaboration with a university abroad; the largest number of collaborations are with Germany and the United States, followed by the United Kingdom and France.

The next submission deadline for Doc.CH applications is 15 September 2022.