Annual Call for Projects

The Call offers project grants for pluri-disciplinary teams working on international studies (see below). The SNIS supports pluri-disciplinary projects in the social sciences and pluri-disciplinary projects that combine natural and social sciences. The SNIS does not support pluri-disciplinary projects that only consist of natural sciences. The SNIS does not fund individual grants, i.e., career grants.

Projects must run for two years, and funding can range from 100’000 to 300’000 Swiss francs.

There are two thematic branches of the Call:
• The general Call: in any area of International Studies as defined above;
• Theme 2021: defined by the SNIS International Geneva Committee: ‘Covid - 19: What lessons for multilateralism? (particularly in view of climate change action)’

There is no quota for the general Call or the annual theme, i.e., applicants have no statistical advantage when submitting to either branch.

Call 2021 description

Guideline for the full proposal

Budget template

Call for Projects 2020
full proposal


Budget Template


Know the Call

This Call launched that can range from CHF 100’000 to CHF 300’000 is for projects running for two years. It is normally launched at the start of each calendar year. 


Check Eligibility

Pluri-disciplinary teams should be working on areas related to international studies. You will find more detailed eligibility criteria below.


Submit Pre-Proposal

Project teams should produce a short version of their project. A pre-proposal should outline a research gap, ensue research question(s) and detail all collaboration partners.



Selected projects should integrate the feedback received by the SNIS Scientific Committee, expand and enhance their project proposal as well as solidify their partnerships.


Submit Full Proposal

An in-debt description of the project and its associated work-packages, detailed financial information as well as written collaboration commitments will be required at this stage.

SNIS definitions

International studies

The SNIS adopts an inclusive understanding of international studies. Therefore, research in international studies concerns issues that are pluri-disciplinary, relevant to the international agenda, and for which international cooperation is required to produce policy-relevant outputs. Investigated issues may combine political, economic, social, environmental, historical, legal, health, scientific, and development dimensions of complex societal questions.


Pluri-disciplinary research is concerned with the study of a research topic within one discipline, with support from other disciplines, bringing together multiple analytical dimensions.

Inter- and trans-disciplinarity

The SNIS strongly encourages inter-, and trans-disciplinary research which go even further than pluri-disciplinary research.

Inter- and trans-disciplinary research (IDR) is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.

The pre-proposal

In the first round, research teams submit a pre-proposal that contains the description of the project as well as information on the submitting research team members. The SNIS Scientific Committee decides which applicants are invited to submit a full proposal. The success rate in the second round is approximately 40%. All participants in the first round can ask for a feedback for their applications.

Content and deadline

To complete a pre-proposal, applicants need to fill in a form on the SNIS submission platform. The different form fields correspond to the eligibility and evaluation criteria cited above. Project coordinators must also provide a short biography (max. 500 characters), a list of relevant publications (maximum 10), and necessary administrative information.

Applicants also have to indicate ALL team members who will be involved in the project. All mentioned project members must have been personally contacted, and they must have given their consent for participating in the project.

This year’s pre-proposal deadline is 28 January 2021. Results of the first round will be available at the end of March 2021.

IMPORTANT: All proposals must be submitted in English. Proposals that fail to meet this criterion will be automatically disqualified.

The deadlines of the first and second round are final, i.e., information provided after the deadline will not be considered.

Substantial changes of the project between the first and second round are prohibited.

The full proposal

In the second round, teams submit a full proposal. The SNIS Scientific Committee selects the winning projects and gives detailed feedback to those not retained.

Proposal content and deadline

In the full proposal phase, applicants need to upload six individual pdf documents to the submission platform. Project coordinators have to provide the following documents:

  • Summary;
  • Research plan;
  • Team member information;
  • The appropriate dissemination strategy for the expected research results;
  • Partnership information;
  • Budget;
  • Institutional letter for Post-docs: Only if the project coordinator is a faculty member without a full-time contract.

The criteria for the evaluation of the full proposals are the same as for the evaluation of the pre-proposals.

The Jury will also take into consideration if the project team has met their previous questions/critiques.

This year’s full proposal deadline is 17 May 2021. Results will be available at the end of June 2021.

Criteria for the Selection of Projects

The SNIS differentiates between eligibility criteria (substantial and formal) that have to be met to allow for funding and evaluation criteria that are used to rank projects.

The two substantial eligibility criteria for the admission to the call are:

  • The project proposal meets the criterion of at least pluri-disciplinary research;
  • The project proposal meets the criterion of international studies.

To meet the criterion of international studies, project proposals must demonstrate that the issues investigated:

  • Are pluri-disciplinary;
  • Are relevant on the international agenda;
  • Require international cooperation to produce policy-relevant outputs.

IMPORTANT: Projects in which there is simply an international collaboration between researchers from different countries are not qualified as ‘international studies’.

To meet the criterion of pluri-disciplinarity, project proposals need to demonstrate that:

  • The research question benefits from a pluri-disciplinary approach;
  • The research design is genuinely pluri-disciplinary;
  • The team is composed of experts from different academic backgrounds (it does not suffice that one person claims proficiency in many disciplines).

The SNIS Secretariat checks the substantial eligibility criteria and earmarks projects that might not fulfill the two eligibility critera. The president of the SNIS Scientific Committee reviews all the earmarked projects and decides which proposals can enter the Call and which are rejected.

Formal eligibility criteria aim to guarantee the administrative solidity of SNIS funded projects and additionnaly ascertain that the projects contain co-funding.

The following formal eligibility criteria apply:

• A Swiss university or other Swiss institution of tertiary education or research acts as the hosting institution of the project. The list of qualifying institutions is available at;

• The coordinator and co-coordinator submitting a project must be a faculty member (professor, assistant professor, post-doc, researcher) employed by a qualifying institution (see above);

• For the duration of the project, the coordinator needs to be employed by the hosting institution for work unrelated to the project with a contract of at least 40% full-time equivalent (FTE);

• Each project needs to have a co-coordinator;

• If the coordinator is a faculty member without a full-time contract at the hosting institution, the co-coordinator must be employed by the same hosting institution with a contract of at least a 40% FTE not related to the project;

• The coordinator of a project shall not be working on another ongoing SNIS funded project at the time of submission. On-going means that the accounts of a project are not closed on the day of the first-round submission deadline;

• Co-funding (in-kind and monetary contributions combined) must amount to at least 25% of requested funds and shall not exceed 100% of requested funds.

The SNIS Secretariat checks formal eligibility criteria. Projects that fail to meet the formal eligibility criteria are notified shortly after the deadline of the pre-proposals and will not enter the Call.

Evaluation criteria are subdivided into three aspects:

1) Academic originality and rigor

The quality of the proposal is evaluated according to:

  • The adequacy of the literature review;

  • The precise identification of a research gap;

  • The originality and clarity of the research questions / hypotheses;

  • The adequacy and completeness of the proposed research methods;

  • The adequacy and quality of the team members;

  • The adequacy between the research venture and the time / envelope funding available;

  • The clarity of the research plan.

2) Collaboration

The quality of the proposal is evaluated according to:

– Inter-academic collaboration:

  • Involvement of different universities in Switzerland;
  • Involvement of researchers from abroad;
  • Involvement of PhD students and post-docs;
  • Involvement of local partners / researchers (for case / field studies).

– Collaboration with IOs / NGOs:

  • Integration of the research topic with IOs’ / NGOs’ agendas;
  • Collaboration with personnel from IOs / NGOs (if applicable);
  • Quality and appropriateness of all other trans-academic partnerships (collaboration with non-academic partners such as private entities or any institutions that do not fall under IOs / NGOs).

3) Projected outputs & dissemination 

The quality of the project proposal is evaluated according to:

  • The ambition of the projected academic outputs;
  • The post-project data-sharing strategy;
  • The adequacy and depth of the projected dissemination / impact strategy;
  • The projected reach of the dissemination efforts.


Travel expenses should be reasonable, with clear added value to the project and complying with the rules of the institution managing the SNIS funds.


The SNIS neither funds infrastructure nor equipment.


The SNIS does not fund publication costs but strongly encourages open-access for articles emanating from SNIS projects. Project coordinators are encouraged to use their discretionary research fund (see below) to pay for open-access to their project-derived, peer-reviewed articles where necessary.


The SNIS does not fund any institutional overheads. However, project coordinators are entitled to allocate 3% of the granted sum to their discretionary research fund. The SNIS encourages project coordinators to use this fund to pay for open-access to their project-derived, peer-reviewed articles where necessary. For all other expenses made with the discretionary research fund rules from the hosting institution apply [1].

All hosting institutions of selected projects will have to furnish support letters confirming that they will oversee the accounting of the allocated budget (without charging VAT or institutional overheads), and that they will control for the orderly use of the discretionary research funds.

[1] For an indicative list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of discretionary research fund money see

Roles of Team Members

Please note that all project members mentioned in the project proposal must have been personally contacted and have given their full consent for participating in the project.


The coordinator manages the project, is the primary contact for the SNIS and is responsible for the successful conclusion of the project. There can only be one coordinator per project, and SNIS funds can only be used to compensate coordinators that do not have a full-time contract at their hosting institution.

Salary provisions

• If the coordinator has a full-time contract, SNIS funds cannot be used for the coordinator’s salary;

• The project contribution of a coordinator (not compensated with SNIS funds) counts as ‘in-kind’ contribution to the project by the employing institution;

• If the coordinator is a faculty member without a full-time contract, SNIS will fund up to a 50% of a FTE position for the coordinator.


The co-coordinator serves as the primary contact for SNIS in case the coordinator is absent. There can only be one co-coordinator per project.

Salary provisions

• The same rules as for the coordinator apply.


The principal members are the key research personnel. Principal members can come from the hosting or partner institutions and can be Ph.D. students, IO / NGO members or other researchers. The hosting university is responsible to conclude a contract either directly with their own researchers or with other principal members’ institutions to ascertain / regulate the payments of salaries. Principal members cannot have a coordinating role in the project.

Salary provisions

• SNIS funds can used to pay for their salary;

• The SNIS can cover up to a 50% FTE position in accordance to the employing institution. The SNIS reserves the right to trim compensations to be comparable with good practice in the Swiss system of higher education and research.


Associated members can have important functions in the project, but they cannot receive compensations emanating from SNIS funds.

• Ph.D. students can also be principal members;

• The salaries for Ph.D. students paid with SNIS funds should correspond to the scales of the SNSF. If using the SNSF scales is not possible due to specific salary scales and rules of the employing institution, scales and rules of the employing institution can be used. In this case, the team has to provide a full explanation of reasons;

• The scales for Ph.D. salaries are considered to be the remuneration for a 100% position of which a minimum of 60% should be dedicated to SNIS project-related work.

The salaries paid with SNIS funds should correspond to the scales published by the SNSF. If using the SNSF scales is not possible due to specific salary scales and rules of the employing institution, scales and rules of the employing institution can be used. In this case, the team has to provide a full explanation of reasons.

The SNIS reserves the right to trim compensations following good practice in the Swiss system of higher education and research.

The employment level of a researcher involved in a SNIS project should allow for an orderly focus on project work, i.e., avoid economic duress. In general, employment levels covered with SNIS funds of less than 50% are allowed only if other funding sources are used to raise the combined employment level dedicated to the project to at least 50% of a FTE post.