Results of the 1st Leibniz PhD Survey released!

This publication marks an important milestone for the work of the Leibniz PhD Network:

For the first time, we provide and analyze detailed data on the situation of doctoral researchers across all sections of the Leibniz Association. Among else we describe the doctoral researchers’ current working situations, opportunities for career development and experiences with supervision as well as work-life balance. The Leibniz PhD Network designed, conducted, and evaluated the survey in which over 1,000 doctoral researchers participated.

With the foundation of the Leibniz PhD Network, we clearly identified the need for reliable data on the situation of doctoral researchers at the Leibniz Institutes and Research Museums in order to work on improvements. After one year of developing a comprehensive questionnaire, answers were collected between December 2017 and February 2018. Since then a team of doctoral researchers from several Leibniz institutions has been working on evaluating the data. The high response rate of about 40% underlines the interest and importance that doctoral researchers give to the topics. We also would like to thank the Leibniz Head Office for the close exchange during the whole process.

The results allow comparisons between the Leibniz sections. In addition, the survey report also provides an in-depth analysis of specific socioeconomic groups such as stipend holders, international doctoral researchers, and doctoral researchers with child care obligations. The report of the Leibniz PhD Network provides a reference point for doctoral researchers to evaluate their personal situation within the Leibniz Association. Based on the analysis, the Leibniz PhD Network advocates for better practices  and derives fields of action. With our findings we also would like to contribute to the ongoing public discussion on the situation of early-career scientists in Germany.

Although finding relatively high overall satisfaction among doctoral researchers, the report touches upon strong differences in payment levels, challenges in aligning a dissertation and private life, and problems for international doctoral researchers to integrate at Leibniz institutes.

We warmly invite all interested readers to study the results in detail within the full report or its short version, which you all find on this page, where we will also present weekly insights on the results with our “Charts of the Week”.

With the Leibniz PhD survey at hand, we have a solid foundation to enter a constructive dialogue with stakeholders in the Leibniz Association, politics and the general society. For the future, the Leibniz PhD Network is currently preparing a survey together with Helmholtz Juniors and Max Planck PhDnet within the scope fo the N2 – Network of Networks to provide comparable data across the major German non-university research institutions.

When referring to the original publication, cite as: Arcudi, A., Cumurovic, A., Gotter, C., Graeber, D., Joly, P., Ott, V., Schanze, J.-L., Thater, S., Weltin, M., Yenikent, S. (2019) Doctoral Researchers in the Leibniz Association: Final Report of the 2017 Leibniz PhD Survey

Text: Meike Weltin, Daniel Gräber, Isabel Kilian, Philippe Joly, Jonathan Stefanowski, Katharina Willenbücher


  1. This is a great piece of work, that summarizes the most important concerns of PhD students in the Leibniz community. Many thanks to all of them who made this possible. I just have two very small comments that might improve the communicative output of the report. First, the information about to which areas does each section belongs is missing from the entire report. Not even in „4.1. Affiliation with Leibniz sections“ is it explained what does each letter (A, B, C, D E) means. Therefore, in order to interpret the report one has to read it together with the Leibniz webpage open to get that everytime Section A is mentioned it means humanities…and so on. Second, in the short version the statement „76% of the doctoral researchers think that working in academia creates too much financial insecurity“ seems like a crucial results that might deserve to be included in the graph.

    1. Hi Ana, thanks a lot for your message and for your interest in our report!

      We agree, the affiliation to certain Leibniz sections and their respective scientific disciplines is indeed important for the interpretation of many results in the survey. This is why we discuss the differences or similarities between sections for almost all of the topics covered in the report. For the sake of brevity and comprehensibility we decided to stick to the given Leibniz abbreviations and provide a table in the appendix in order to inform our readers about the disciplines that are covered, respectively (see: Table 10).

      The widespread perception of financial uncertainties is crucial. We make sure to communicate this finding alongside other important results in our online and offline debate. Do not hesitate to let us know if you have any other thoughts or ideas and how you feel about the results. You are invited to spread the word within your institute and beyond.

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