Project funding – submitting an application
How and when can I submit a project proposal to the SNSF? What requirements do I have to fulfil? This document answers these and other relevant questions to assist applicants with the preparation and punctual submission of applications.
The explanations on how to submit an application to the SNSF are primarily based on the Funding Regulations and the Organisational Regulations of the National Research Council. Their sole purpose is explanatory and they do not under any circumstances substitute the cited regulations.
- Regulations on Project Funding (PDF)
- Funding Regulations (PDF, 193 KB) (PDF)
- General implementation regulations for the Funding Regulations (PDF)
These explanations only refer to the preparation and submission of applications. Please visit the project funding page to obtain an overview of the requirements for preparing, creating and submitting applications, the selection process and the life-time management of project funding contributions, plus information about the applicable regulatory bases.
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; be sure to apply for a user account in good time.
Project funding is open to all disciplines and topics; the projects may concern both basic and use-inspired research. Researchers based in Switzerland and those working at specific Swiss research institutions abroad are eligible to submit applications.
Before preparing an application
Applicants must ensure that they fulfil the personal and formal requirements as well as any other requirements specific to submitting a proposal to the SNSF in accordance with the Funding Regulations.
Preparing an application
Some parts of the application may be prepared in advance and uploaded as PDF documents once your account has been activated. This applies, in particular, to the research plan, CV and list of research output. Please enter all other data online in mySNF, in particular administrative and financial details.
Your proposal must include a data mamagement 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 via mySNF
Applications need to be submitted online by no later than the official cut-off date (1 April or 1 October by 17.00h Swiss local time). The Administrative Offices of the SNSF examine whether the formal and personal requirements have been met, contact applicants if necessary and, if everything is in order, forward the application for scientific evaluation.
Setting up a mySNF user account
Applications must be submitted via the mySNF platform, where you can request a user account. New user accounts for applicants may only be used after they have been approved by the SNSF. This process usually takes one working day, but in some cases may take up to a maximum of five days. To guarantee access in good time, new user accounts should 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 scientific track record as specified in the Funding Regulations. They should also clarify questions in advance regarding any additional applicants and/or project partners.
- Personal requirements : Natural persons carrying out scientific research for non-commercial purposes in Switzerland or at specific Swiss institutions abroad are eligible to submit an application. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they possess at least a 50 percent employment contract with a registered research institution for the full duration of the project. Exceptions apply in the case of confirmed employment for researchers active in clinics, employees of museums and archives, and independent applicants. In exceptional cases, the SNSF may accept legal entities as applicants.
- Scientific track record : Project funding applications may only be submitted by researchers who have spent at least four years successfully carrying out research since obtaining their doctorate (PhD). For applicants without a doctorate (PhD), this four-year period normally commences after at least three years of research activity as principal occupation following completion of the studies that are required as an equivalent to a doctorate (PhD). This applies particularly to clinicians without a PhD. Applicants must be in a position to carry out a research project under their own responsibility and to lead the personnel involved in it. Applicants who are not academically qualified to supervise doctoral candidates may need to entrust co-applicants or other qualified persons with the task of supervising the doctoral candidates to be employed in the planned project.
- Multiple applicants : As a rule, applications for funding are submitted by a single applicant. Multiple applicants are acceptable if this is necessary for the research project concerned. Before preparing an application, applicants should clarify whether they need to submit a proposal on their own or together with other researchers. All applicants have to fulfil the same conditions with regard to their scientific track record and personal requirements. However, only the applicant representing the research group is legally responsible vis-à-vis the SNSF. It is important that all applicants make a substantial contribution to the project. Researchers who only make a smaller contribution to the planned project should be registered as project partners. The term “project partner” refers to researchers who contribute towards a project but do not bear responsibility for that project. They may, however, benefit from funding provided by the SNSF.
Clarifications before drafting an application II
Before drafting an application, applicants should clarify the following points:
- Formal requirements for applications : Apart from the majority of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, applications have to be written in English. In those disciplines in which English is not mandatory, applicants may use one of Switzerland’s official languages. Furthermore, the research plan, CV and list of publications must meet the requirements stipulated by the SNSF. Applications must be complete and submitted by the applicable deadline.
- Overlap with ongoing projects and pending applications : Applicants may only submit one application as of each cut-off date. If an applicant already has an ongoing project supported by the SNSF and wants to submit a second application, the two projects must be clearly distinguishable from one another in terms of topic. Furthermore, the applicant must be in a position to make a substantial contribution to both projects supported by the SNSF. The thematic distinction of the projects must be defined when the application is submitted via mySNF. This also applies to ongoing projects that are financed by other funding bodies. In the event of any thematic overlaps with ongoing projects, the SNSF will carefully examine whether the latest proposed project adds significant scientific value. If an applicant submits identical or thematically overlapping applications to the SNSF and to other funding bodies during the same period, they are required 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 being funded by other institutions.
- Costs : Before drafting the application, applicants should consider which project costs they wish to apply for and whether these costs are eligible for SNSF funding. In project funding, applicants may not apply for funding of their own salary; the funding schemes of the Career division have been devised for this purpose. Applicants are also not allowed to be simultaneously employed within the scope of another SNSF project.
Costs that are eligible for project funding:
- Personnel costs (salaries and social security contributions of scientific and technical employees)
- Material costs, if they are directly linked to the research project, in particular material of enduring value, the cost of expendable items, field expenses, travel or expenses of third parties
- The costs associated with the use of infrastructure directly linked to the implementation of the research
- Costs and fees for scientific open access electronic publications
- Costs for granting access to research data (Open Research Data)
- Cost of organising conferences and workshops in the context of the funded research
- Costs of national and international cooperation and networking activities directly associated with the funded research
All eligible costs must be project-related. If positions for collaborators (doctoral students, postdocs or other employees) are to be covered by SNSF funding, the SNSF salary ranges and blanket amounts for social security contributions have to be applied, see annex 12 of the general implementation regulations.
The SNSF also awards supplementary grants, e.g. for research stays abroad for doctoral students (mobility grants) as well as contributions to childcare (Flexibility Grants) for doctoral students and postdoctoral students with family commitments. The "Protected Research Time for Clinicians (PRTC)" initiative enables clinicians to devote at least 30 percent of their working hours to their SNSF-supported research project. With the aid of grants to relieve them of their teaching obligations, researchers in the fields of humanities and social sciences are able to be excused from some of their teaching duties so that they can pursue their research activities (cf. "Additional measures").
- Regulations on Project Funding (PDF, 123 KB) (PDF)
- Funding Regulations (PDF, 193 KB) (PDF)
- General implementation regulations for the Funding Regulations (PDF, 335 KB) (PDF)
- Annex 12: salary ranges, guidelines for employees in projects funded by the SNSF and blanket amounts for social security contributions (PDF, 111 KB) (PDF)
- Supplementary measures
Preparation of application: creating the upload documents
The research plan must be compiled in accordance with the specified requirements. Its length must not exceed 20 pages and 80,000 characters , and should be uploaded to the corresponding document container on mySNF as a PDF (with editing protection disabled).
Creating applications in mySNF
In the mySNF input mask, applicants should select the “Create new application” option by navigating to the appropriate field under “Project funding” (e.g. “Humanities and social sciences”). Once they have decided whether to enter an application from scratch or use one of their previous applications as a template (this applies to follow-up applications), the data containers that need to be completed will be displayed in the menu bar.
The data concerning applicants and applications should be entered in the input mask. They should include the title, the discipline(s), keywords, any links to other projects and applications, scientific collaborations, requested and available funds, and whether the project is use-inspired.
A project may be declared as “use-inspired”, in which case the broader impact of the research has to be outlined in the research plan; it will then be considered in the evaluation of the application. Projects should only be declared as "use-inspired" if the following points apply: a need for research exists from the point of view of practice; the research results can be transferred to the practical realm in due course, if not immediately, and they potentially have a broader impact.
While preparing a proposal on mySNF, the applicants also have to prepare a data management plan (DMP). The DMP form comprises four sections: (1) data collection and documentation, (2) ethics, legal and security issues, (3) data storage and preservation, and (4) data sharing and reuse. Sub-questions and online help texts will help researchers to complete the form.
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. 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.
On mySNF, help texts offer basic assistance with entering data online and completing individual data containers.
Submission to the SNSF and communication of the decision
There are two annual submission deadlines for project funding applications: 1 April and 1 October. Applications must be submitted online via mySNF by the relevant deadline. The Administrative Offices examine whether the submitted applications meet the submission requirements based on the Funding Regulations, and whether the rules of scientific integrity have been complied with. If this is the case, the SNSF decides to consider the application and forwards it to the Research Council for evaluation; if the requirements have not been met, the application will not be considered.
The Administrative Offices of the SNSF check whether the application complies with the rules of scientific integrity. In particular, it uses specially designed 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 until such time as the application is cleared of suspicion through an investigation. If the suspicion is confirmed, the SNSF may impose sanctions.
Prior to and during the submission of applications, applicants may address queries and requests for information to the Administrative Offices of the SNSF. After receipt of the submission and when checking submitted proposals, the Administrative Offices may contact applicants in order to clarify issues relating to the proposal. Before, during and after the evaluation, applicants are required 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 has been communicated in written form.
The SNSF informs applicants about its the final decision by means of a ruling approximately six months after the relevant submission deadline. Approved projects may not be initiated before 1 April or 1 October, as the case may be.
The evaluation procedure for project proposals is described in detail under “Evaluation procedure in project funding”.
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 pronouncement pursuant to Article 13 of the Research and Innovation Promotion Act. A notice of appeal must include:
- the petition
- the grounds for appeal and details of the evidence,
- the signature of the appellant or his / her representative
The contested ruling and the documents cited as evidence must be enclosed insofar as they are in the appellant's possession. The court will request an advance payment to cover procedural costs.
The SNSF recommends 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.p>