Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Preparing an ESF Exploratory Workshop Proposal


Who is eligible to submit a proposal?
Applicants should be individual, active, scientists/researchers based at European universities/research institutes (in the broad sense) in ESF Member Organisation countries.
Consult the map of  ESF Member Organisation countries.
In the event that the applicant is based in a non-ESF Member Organisation country, the proposal should be led by a scientist (principal applicant) based in a country in which the European Science Foundation has a Member Organisation (see above).

Can established societies submit proposals?
No. Applications must come from individual scientists/researchers.

Can scientists working in the private sector apply?
No, ESF exploratory workshops are not intended for private (profit making)companies.

Does the principal applicant (main convenor) have to be the workshop "organiser"?
No. However, the main convenor should be from an ESF Member Organisation country and should be clearly indicated as such in the proposal. The workshop organiser, if different from the principal applicant, should also be clearly indicated in the proposal.


In what language(s) can I submit a proposal?
Applications must be in English.

Are there any rules for the presentation (format) of my proposal?
Yes. Proposals should be submittted using the specific template provided in the Call, respecting headings and structures, as well as the maximum total length  (8 A4 single pages).
All margins should be at least 3cm and headers and footers not less than 2cm.
Font size must be Arial or Helvetica 11.

What information should be provided?
Please refer to the application criteria and requirements provided within the Call for Proposals.

Can my proposal cover several workshops?
No. A proposal should be for a single event.

To whom and when should I submit a proposal?
Proposals should be submitted via Internet using the on-line form and uploading system provided  in the appropriate call (see above) on or before Thursday 18 April 2013 16.00 CET. Proposals for uploading must be composed of 1 file only, in Word, rtf or pdf and comply with the above presentation rules. Revisions to submitted proposals will not be accepted.

Can I send my CV separately ?
No. Proposals, including CVs, should be emailed as 1 attachment only.

If I apply early, do I have a better chance of being selected?
No. All proposals received by the deadline are dealt with together. It is however recommended not to wait until the last minute to submit your proposal as the possibility of encountering technical problems can never be fully ruled out.

If I apply after the deadline, will my proposal be considered?

Can I expect an acknowledgement of receipt of my proposal?
Yes, if you gave a correct email address you will receive an electronic acknowledgement with a provisional reference number  immediately upon submission.
The principal applicant will be sent an electronic acknowledgement of receipt with the final Proposal Reference number within 4 weeks of the deadline for applications. No acknowledgement is sent via fax or ordinary post.

When will I be informed of the outcome of my application?
At the end of November at the latest. A short electronic message will be sent to the main applicant providing him/her also with appropriate details to access a restricted website where, 3 weeks later, the formal letter of outcome and annex documentation (assessments) will be made available. Formal documents will not be sent by post.

Can I re-submit an application which was not funded under a previous Call?
Yes. Applications not funded under a previous Call may be re-submitted once only. In such a case, it is strongly recommended that the Referees' feedback and Scientific Review Group comments on the previous application be taken into account in the revised proposal. Further resubmissions (same topic, same proposer(s), similar list of participants) will not be accepted.

Dates, Location and Duration

Are there any restrictions on proposed dates ?
Yes. The workshop must be held between 1 February and 31 December of the calendar year following the call for proposals (e.g. a proposal  submitted in May of one year, must be for a meeting to be held between 1 February and 31 December of the following year).

Which locations can be used?
Workshops must be held in an ESF Member Organisation country.
Map of ESF Member Organisation countries

Are there any restrictions on duration of a workshop?
The average duration of a workshop is 1-3 days. Longer durations may be considered if justified.

Are dates and location final at proposal stage?
No. Dates and location are considered provisional at this stage. If the proposal is funded, the applicants will be asked to confirm both elements between end of December and beginning of the following year.


How many workshop attendees (participants) can there be?
The average is 20-25. The minimum is 15 attendees and the maximum 30 attendees (including speakers and convenors), whether funded from ESF source or not.

How is an "attendee" (participant) defined?
Any person present, even only in part, at the workshop in a scientific capacity, no matter their status (convenor, speaker,  poster presenter, non-presenting participant, etc.), is an attendee. Technical personnel do not count as attendees. See also last 2 questions in this section.

Can researchers based outside ESF Member Organisation countries participate in a workshop?
Yes, but their number should be limited. Furthermore, their expenses should, in principle, be covered from sources other than the ESF award. Applicants should remember that the proposal must demonstrate the potential importance of European collaboration in the chosen field (European added value).

Are there any rules on the geographic distribution of participants?
Yes. No country, including that of the convenor(s), should be represented by more than 25% of the total participants (Ex: If the workshop counts 20 participants, you cannot have more than 5 participants from any given country).
Proposals with participation from less than 4 ESF Member Organisation Countries will not be considered.
The aim should be to have wide participation from across Europe and applicants should strive to achieve a good geographical balance, with due regard also to age and gender.

What criteria is used to evaluate geographical balance among participants (i.e. how does ESF define to which country a potential participant belongs)?
"Affiliation" to a country is defined by the country in which a person works/is based and not by his/her nationality. A Japanese researcher employed in Germany will therefore count as "German" while a French scientist working in the US will be considered as "American" (i.e. from a "non ESF Member Organisation country").

Are there any rules on the gender distribution of participants?
Yes. Either gender must be represented by at least 1/3 of the total participation (ex: If the workshop has 15 participants, you must have at least 5 women and at least 5 men).

What is the definition of a "young scientist"?
A working definition applied to ESF activities would be ’a young scientist/researcher is someone who at the time of the application has not been in an established position for more than 5 years’. Therefore, post-doctorate researchers and lecturers within 5 years of appointment would be amongst those included in this definition. Students, since they do not hold an "established position", are not.

Is it possible to include only a partial list of (named) participants in the application, with the rest to be chosen at a later stage (e.g. through "targeted selection" or through an "open call for participation")?
No. The list provided should be complete, i.e. include all planned participants (with name, affiliation as well as gender and a few keywords relating to specific expertise) in order to provide a comprehensive picture of of the planned event and enable to check compliance with the geographical and gender balance requirements of the scheme.

Is it necessary to provide the age of proposed participants?
No, it is not obligatory but applicants are advised to indicate this information wherever possible. (Excess precision on age should be avoided, and it would be perfectly satisfactory simply to indicate ‘young scientists’.) It should be noted, however, that the convenors of successful applications must provide gender and age information in the scientific report of the workshop.

Can the workshop be open(ed) to the public?
No. In order to maintain the interactive nature of discussions, the ESF asks that exploratory workshops remain "small" meetings, with participation upon invitation only.

Can "observers" (i.e. students and colleagues from the hosting institution) attend the workshop?
No. (In very exceptional circumstances - and with adequate justification, the ESF may accept the presence of 1-2 observers (at no cost), provided this does not raise the total number of attendees above 30.)

Use of funds

To consult the basic ESF rules for exploratory workshop budgeting,
click here

Can part of the award be used for a preparatory meeting between organisers, etc.?

Conditions of awards

How long is the award valid?

An award is valid for the calendar year (1 February -31 December) following the year of the call for proposals (ex: If the award isreceived under the 2009 Call, it will be valid 1 February -31 December 2010).

What conditions are tied to a workshop award?

  • Workshops must comply with the profile of Exploratory Workshops as defined under "Required Format" in the Call.

  • Successful applicants must comply with the "Guidelines for organisers of awarded Exploratory Workshops" (available on EW Homepage).

  • Successful applicants must submit scientific and financial reports within 2 months of the workshop.

Failure to comply with the above conditions may result in the ESF withdrawing the award or retaining part of it (for more details on penalties, refer to the "Guidelines for organisers of awarded Exploratory Workshops", available on the EW Homepage). Furthermore, subsequent proposals for ESF activities may not be taken into consideration.