My colleagues and I are currently writing a grant application to the German Research Foundation. My colleagues have published many papers before and I have not published anything yet.

Ideally, we would like to include me as an "additional" applicant, because I have written most of the application, but we worry it might lower our chance of getting the grant. Does any of you have experience with this, and can tell us if our worry is warranted?

  • 1
    I can't answer this question, but wonder whether the application has a section on the expected contributions of the applicants.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 19:53
  • 6
    Can’t answer for Germany. At the funder I work for the totality of the applicants is taken into account - they need to demonstrate the right expertise between them. We wouldn’t be concerned at an applicant (or two or three) who hadn’t published before as long as it was clear what they brought to the project. If none of the applicants had an academic track record that would be a concern. Everyone has to start somewhere.
    – rhialto
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 23:29
  • 3
    If you are a doctoral student, you are probably fine, as long as the rest of the team has sufficient evidence for expertise. If you are a postdoc or above, having no publications may be counterproductive. If you are a junior postdoc, you may consider putting papers in submission or revision into your publication list if you at all have them. Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 23:34
  • Thanks a lot everyone!
    – curious
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 16:43
  • I would give the grant administrator a call. They are ready to help and don't want anyone to fail for insubstantial reasons. Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 10:19

1 Answer 1


Maybe too late for this specific case, but maybe useful for others later:

There is not universal answer to this as there are too many factors. A few things that one can say (for proposals to the DFG - may also hold for other agencies):

  • Projects with more applicants should be even more coherent, i.e. each new applicant should sharpen the focus of the proposal (and not broaden it).
  • The standing of the applicants actually matters a lot, however, academic age is considered and there is a one-time "first applicant bonus".
  • The reviewers will judge if the team of applicants is up to the task. Usually this is judged based on the track records, especially the publications. For an applicant without any publications, this is impossible and there needs to be strong evidence in favor.
  • Every official applicant needs to apply for some funding (otherwise they would not be applicants but "cooperation partners") and usually more than just travel money, but money for positions. I think it is hard to argue that somebody without any publications should supervise a PhD student (or a student assistant) in a research project. However, you could apply for money for your own position.
  • It is perfectly fine to contact the DFG directly (just call the person responsible for the funding scheme and subject) - they are there to help with such questions.

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