General structures MPS & PhDnet

The Max Planck Society is one of the 4 big science organisation within Germany and was founded in 1948. The MPS operates 83 institutes in and outside of Germany which carry out basic research in life science, natural sciences and social & human sciences.

Max Planck Society

There are three sections within the Max Planck Society: Humanities (HS), Biology & Medicine (BM), and Chemistry, Physics & Technology (CPT). Institutes themselves are independent in the conduct of their research pursuits and selection of employees and led by a group of directors. Every institute has internally managed budgets, which can be supplemented by third party funding. Every two to three years every institute is evaluated on scientific and structural level by a Scientific Advisory Board. The scientific attractiveness and success of the MPS is based on this principle, the Harnack Principle.


What is the PhDnet?

The PhDnet is the network of all doctoral researcher and PhD representatives of the Max Planck Society. It was founded in 2003 to improve interdisciplinary cooperation, to optimize doctoral education and scientific exchange, and to strengthen academic solidarity.

Every institute belongs to one of the three sections and should have Internal Representatives and one elected External Representative, who represents the institute to the PhDnet and is elected for a term of one year. Regions with more MPI`s join together in “Regional Hubs” organizing events and exchange about current topics, problems etc. (A list of current hubs can be found on the webpage.). Within the PhDnet there are working groups that every doctoral researcher can join if he or she wants to support the work of the PhDnet. The following working groups are always happy about volunteers:

At every General Meeting there is an election of the Steering group by the External Representatives. The Steering group consists of the following positions:

  • Section Representatives of each section (BMS; CPT, Humanities)
  • General Secretary
  • Financial Officer
  • Spokesperson

Every election procedure and the organization of the PhDnet is governed by our statutes which can only be changed at the annual General Meeting following certain rules. Find more information and the statutes on the website:

What does the Steering group do?

The Steering group represents the PhDnet and henceforth all doctoral researchers within the MPS. They are in contact with the General Administration and the president of the MPS serving as link between doctoral researchers within the MPS and the General Headquarters.

The Steering group is elected at the General Meeting by the External Representatives of each institute. The term of the Steering group starts on the 1st january of every year until 31st of december. Defined rules for eligibility can be found in the statutes. An Agenda of the Steering group for the next year is agreed upon at the annual General Meeting.

One of the main tasks are managing the representation of PhDnet within MPS and to the public, problem solving, overseeing the work of the working groups and voluntary involvement in MPS wide working groups such as BGM (work health management) or Parenting.

How can I get involved?

At every point your are free to join one of the working groups. Just find the relevant information and contact on the website of the PhDnet. You can find your institutes representative and ask if you can join as an internal representative or get elected as External Representative. As an representative you can join the annual General Meeting. You can always join our annual events such as the Career Fair and Visions in Science conference to network and get to know the people involved in the PhDnet. If you have further question feel free to contact your local representatives, the Steering group (via facebook or email: ) or any other member of the PhDnet - we are always happy to help you out.

External Representatives

The External Representative represents the doctoral researchers of one institute towards the PhDnet and should report to their section representatives and hold voting rights as a delegate of their institute at the General Meeting. External Representatives are elected annually by every doctoral researcher of one specific institute with a 50 % majority. The election procedure should be held at the beginning of each year, latest before the annual General Meeting of the PhDnet. Prior the election an election committee has to be formed (doctoral researcher of the institute, no external representative candidate) and the General Secretary should be contacted. Every doctoral researcher affiliated with an MPS are entitled to vote or stand for election. The specific rules about the election of External Representative can be found the PhDnet statutes under Appendix A:

Internal Representatives

Internal Representatives play a crucial role in the representation of the interests of doctoral researchers at their institute. They should convene regular meetings of doctoral researchers at their institute, look for and create opportunities to improve doctoral training conditions for their constituents; and they keep in touch with their institute’s directors, administration, academic staff member in the scientific council, ombudsperson, Promotionsbeauftragte/r, and works council (Betriebsrat).

The election of Internal Representatives is to be determined locally.

Are there PhDnet events?

The annual assembly of the PhDnet, the General Meeting, is taking place in autumn every year (normally November) in a chosen city in Germany. Every External Representative should join the General Meeting or send a replacement in case he or she cannot join. The working group organizers are present at the General Meeting and some free spots are always kept for Internal Representatives and volunteers that want to get involved with PhDnet.

There is an annual Conference by the PhDnet, the Visions in Science conference, usually held in Berlin in late summer or early autumn. Prior to the Vision in Science there is an annual Career Fair (since 2015) where you can get to know companies and network. Find more information on our website or on our social media accounts (PhDnet on facebook, twitter or instagram).

Where can I find information about PhDnet?

What is N2?

N² is the “network of networks”, a collaboration of PhD representations of the three big non-university research organizations in Germany: the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association and the Leibniz Association. The board of N² consists of the Spokespersons and Deputy Spokespersons of each individual network. The advisory board of N² consists of board members from the previous years. Among the activities of N² are

  • Coordinated political activity and meetings with politicians to improve the situation of doctoral researchers across Germany.
  • Organization of joint events such as career fairs and conferences.
  • Implementation of a joint survey.
  • Coordination of working groups from the individual networks working on smaller joint projects.
Go to Editor View