Cooperative Research Projects in Computational Social Sciences

With this call, the Volkswagen Foundation offers financial support for cooperative research projects, both for international workshops and summer schools as well as for cooperative research projects between international postdoctoral researchers.


In recent years, what has come to be termed the "digitalization" of society has led to fundamental social, political, and economic changes. The "digital revolution" has also had significant effects on social research, as the development and usage of new media devices and technologies has generated an abundance of data about human behavior which can be used for further research. On the one hand, this opens up new opportunities for social science research; on the other hand, it also involves methodological and methodical challenges. These new developments offer an extensive breadth of potential research questions within the thematic field of the "Computational Social Sciences", the exploration of which the Foundation would like to support.

The Foundation not only intends to support the further advancement of this field, but also explicitly aims at supporting the development of international networks between scholars based in Germany and abroad as well as the further training of junior researchers – from the level of Master’s to postdoc.

Scope of Funding

The focus of this call is on the exploration of socially relevant research questions. The Foundation supports both international workshops and summer schools (also as series of up to three summer schools) as well as international research cooperations of up to four postdoctoral researchers; any proposal submitted must address socially important topics, which can be explored using (new) tools and methods offered by the "Computational Social Sciences". Project teams can be interdisciplinary, but a social scientist must always be involved.

Set-up (Personnel) and Duration

This line offers opportunities for funding for two to a maximum of four years. It is possible for two to four postdoctoral scholars to form a research consortium. The Foundation especially invites multilateral research groups with members in more than two countries. Furthermore, the Foundation encourages cooperation with partners from non-European countries (such as the transatlantic region or Asia). In exceptional cases, a bilateral cooperation of two postdocs based at German institutions as well as the involvement of more established (senior) researchers (yet, they cannot apply for any personnel expenditure) is also possible.

The involvement of a postdoctoral candidate based at a German institution is essential; this person needs to act as the main applicant of the project. Other partners can be registered as co-applicants.

Networking Workshop

In advance of the deadline for applications for cooperative research projects, a networking workshop of up to three or four days will be held in Cologne (Germany) on February 23 to 26, 2016. This workshop offers an opportunity for postdoctoral researchers interested in participating in a cooperative project to get to know and network with potential partners. The event will offer both thematic input as well as space to develop cooperative research ideas.

The deadline for submitting short applications to participate in the workshop was 10 December 2015.

Participation in this workshop does in no way affect the chances of succeeding in acquiring a grant for a cooperative project; neither is it a prerequisite for submitting an application.


This call is set in the context of a range of activities established by the Foundation with regards to the thematic field "Big Data/Digitalisation of the society". Following the Herrenhausen Conferences on "Digital Humanities" (2013) and "Big Data in a Transdisciplinary Perspective" (2015), the Foundation decided to support this dynamic and still rapidly developing field of "Computational Social Sciences".

Application date
2-4 years
Social sciences
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology