Collaborative Fellowships in the History of Knowledge

The Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) wish to support pairs of researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds to conduct collaborative research. Researchers may apply from across the social sciences and the humanities. Proposals should investigate original research ideas and specify potential applications to real world problems, on regional or global scales. Each pair of scholars would preferably combine historical with contemporary perspectives on the sources and effects of knowledge formations, in scientific, humanistic, economic, social, technological, or environmental domains. 

The awards are intended to provide a research stipend (to cover living costs plus reasonable research expenses) for a period of up to five months – with a core, mandatory period of four months commencing 1st March 2023 – for the purpose of working together on an interdisciplinary project, based in Berlin for the duration.

Please read these details carefully – and consult the FAQs – before commencing an application or contacting the ISRF with a query. Applicants are strongly advised to submit applications well in advance of this deadline. If you have any technical issues, please notify Stuart Wilson immediately.


Only pairs of scholars are eligible to apply, and must apply together. Applicants will normally hold a full-time or part-time salaried position – which may be permanent or fixed-term – at an institution of higher education and research, though independent scholars are also eligible.

Each pair must represent two different disciplines and two different institutions. Applications from two countries or nationalities are also encouraged: one of the aims of this award is to facilitate collaboration across borders.

Eligible Research

Innovative research that breaks with existing disciplinary boundaries and explanatory frameworks. Applications are encouraged to address afresh empirical problems concerning the epistemologies and politics of knowledge formation in different historical and/or cultural contexts; they may focus on the uses of knowledge, its decline, and the plurality of its forms, and areas that have no currently adequate theory or investigative methodology. Innovation may also come from controversial theoretical approaches that pose a critical challenge to incumbent theories, discourses, or practices. Interdisciplinarity in the generation of new investigative initiatives may be achieved by combining, cross-fertilising, and transforming methods, approaches, and theoretical insights from the social sciences and the humanities. We welcome projects ranging across the breadth of the social scientific disciplines, the humanities, and related interdisciplinary research fields.

Terms & Conditions Duration & Timing

The awards are intended to provide a research stipend (to cover living costs plus reasonable research expenses) for a period of up to five months – with a core, mandatory period of four months from March to June 2023. Award recipients would be expected to relocate to Berlin for the duration of the award period, and submitted budgets should include costs of travel and accommodation (which may include dependents).

Scholars will be hosted in Dahlem, in close proximity to the main building of the MPIWG (Boltzmannstraße 18). This building is also home of the IMPRS-KIR, a new, research-based PhD programme dedicated to “Knowledge and Its Resources.” They will be granted access to the research facilities and infrastructures of the MPIWG (library and interlibrary loan service, IT, guest service). Each pair of scholars will be provided with a dedicated work space (one office with double occupancy). During their residence, Fellows will be expected to engage with relevant MPIWG events (in person/hybrid/virtual) and in the ongoing activities of the MPIWG’s partners in Berlin. Physical presence and intellectual commitment will be crucial to the overall success of this programme. 

The term will conclude with a two-day conference, hosted at the Max Planck Society’s Harnack-Haus, at which Fellows will present their work so far, in discussion with scholars from the Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and the MPIWG. 


Applications are expected for awards up to a maximum value of €40,000 per pair. Budgets should itemise planned expenditure, to cover accommodation and subsistence and reasonable research expenses. Budgets which include teaching (and associated administrative) buy-out costs will be considered, but overheads must be limited to 10% of the total award amount. Budgets must conform with the rules and requirements of applicants’ home institutions, who will manage the award money and process expense reimbursements.

Additionally – and therefore not to be included in the budget – award recipients may be entitled to receive a honorarium for preparation and participation in a joint workshop at the end of the residency.

*Eligible research expenses will vary depending on the nature of the proposed project. They may include, but are not limited to: fieldwork, and associated travel, accommodation and subsistence; conference attendance, and associated travel, accommodation and subsistence; conference organisation costs, fees for invited speakers; interviews, and associated travel, accommodation and subsistence; transcription, translation, statistical analysis and other specialist services; dissemination costs (to be itemised); specialist equipment (where not provided by the Host Institution).

**This honorarium is paid by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

Terms & Conditions

We reserve the right to extend the deadline for the competition. A short final report will be required. Award holders may be invited to present their findings in person to the ISRF’s academic representatives in addition to presenting their work at the two-day conference hosted by the MPIWG in Berlin. The ISRF’s and MPIWG’s support is to be acknowledged in all public presentation of research. Full Terms & Conditions governing awards will be provided to successful applicants in their formal offer, based on the draft general terms and conditions available on the ISRF website. Formal acceptance of the award must be completed by the end of December 2023.

*We will not require a lengthy report on your work, although reflections and comments are welcome as an addendum/appendix. For our records we require a short (no more than 500 words) report on the main features of your work: a short recap/outline of research aims and work plan; changes in research plans with reasons; new or surprising findings or results; what was achieved and how; outputs (presentations, publications etc); lessons learned; collaborations, partnerships, networks that have resulted; further plans/projects that arise from research.

Applications to Other Funding Bodies

Applicants may apply without prejudice to other funding bodies. If applications for identical projects were successful it would be expected that only one award (i.e. either the ISRF or another) would be accepted. If applications for either wholly or partly different projects are successful there should be no duplication in the budget headings funded by the ISRF and another body.

All awards are conditional upon acceptance of our Standard Award Terms & Conditions.

The Application

All pairs will be expected to provide the following details as part of their proposal:

The Research Focus:The project’s topic, problem, or question (250 words)

Collaboration: Why this collaboration is necessary for the success of the research – include details of your collaborative process as relevant. In what ways will the project benefit from your concurrent residency for the duration of the Fellowship? (250 words)

Background:Current research reference points and their limitations (250 words)

Project Thesis:The hypotheses or innovative claims the research may enable you to support (250 words)

Methods and procedures your research will employ, with description of the established disciplinary methods you’ve mastered and of interactions among different disciplinary inputs (250 words)

Work Plan:How your methods and procedures will be structured over the period of the award, with reference to the respective responsibilities of each applicant. Please provide realistic detail to show that your plan can be accomplished in the time available (250 words)

Outcomes:Describe project contribution, outcomes, dissemination, and any further steps and longer-term goals (250 words)

Ethics Statement:Any measures required for ethical conduct of the research, including needed regulatory compliance (250 words)

The Submitted Application

This will be read by academic evaluators who are social scientists and humanities scholars but not necessarily in the applicant’s own field; applicants should bear this in mind when writing their application. Our Assessment Procedure is set out online.

Applicants must confirm that their home institutions are aware of their application, and should provide the contact details for the relevant Administrative Officers. Should your application progress, these Officers (Institutional Approvers) will be asked to confirm, on behalf of your departments and institutions that:

  • You will be granted the period and proportion of time requested in the Duration and Timing section;
  • If replacement costs are requested, you will be in receipt of your normal salary during tenure of the award and the institution will provide cover.

How to Apply

Applicants are expected to submit their complete application electronically via the online application system, in English. Each pair is expected to submit one joint application using the following address:

Completed applications must arrive no later than 6pm CET on 28th January 2022.

An individual candidate may only be named in one application.

Applicants can expect to be informed of the result of their applications by email by the end of June 2022.

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