Secretary Group

Secretary Group

The main task of our group is to collect and disseminate important information to all doctoral researchers in the Max Planck Society. In addition, the secretary group helps every Max Planck Institute with the election of their External Representative.

If you are a Max Planck doctoral researcherand you want to get the latest information from us, subscribe to the PhDnet mailing list. If you want to contact us, just write us an email () or directly contact the General Secretary.

Information collection and dissemination

Our group maintains two important email lists within Max Planck Society, that are used to disseminate information to all external representatives (studreps list) and to all interested doctoral researchers (PhDnet mailing list).


    We aim to further strengthen the contact among all institutes. Therefore, we will work hard to ensure that PhDs in all institutes are represented and can attend the General Meeting. We make sure that every external representative is elected following our Statutes and keep records as proofs of these elections. To find out who the external representative of a specific institute is, please refer to our list of Representatives. If you are interested in promoting PhDnet within your institute, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would be happy to provide you with more detailed information.

    External Representatives Elections

    In 2015, new Statutes were approved in the General Meeting, that were again amended in 2020, describing the official procedure for the election of External Representatives. We collectsthe information of all elections, keep track and records, and help setting up an online platform for institutes that decide to do the election online.

    In case you are interested in knowing more about this online platform, please contact us (). If you would like us to support you by setting up the online elections of the External PhD Representatives, please reach out to us. We will then give you guidance for the election procedure (see below) and will kindly ask you to provide the documents “Template_email_adresses” and “RequestExternalElections” (see left panel).

    After every External Representative election (no matter if supported by us or not), a report of the election and an acceptance statement signed by the elected External Representative has to be handed in to the General Secretary and the secretary group.

    Election Procedure

    The election procedure of external representatives is clearly stated in our PhDnet Statutes.

    Here we give you a summary that might help you organize the election process and your timeline:

    1. Choose at least two members for the election committee at your institute.
      The members of the election committee have to be announced to all the PhDs at your institute upon formation. If you are member of the election committee you cannot stand for election. The committee has to make sure all eligible PhD students are included in the announcements, calls and obviously the elections.
      The election committee prepares and supervises the election.
    2. Who can vote for the external representative?
      All PhDs affiliated with a Max Planck institute (scholarship, IMPRS, or employment contract) have the right to elect the external PhD representative at this institute. PhDs who are entitled to vote, are eligible to stand for election. PhDs who are affiliated with more than one institute have to decide before the election period at which institute they want to be eligible to vote and stand for election.
    3. Call for candidates.
      The election committee should call for candidacy two weeks before the election date. Every PhD student who is entitled to vote can stand for elections. It is important for the work of PhDnet that there is an external PhD representative for each institute. To promote candidacy, within your institutes you can use the attached “PhDnet introduction”. Additionally attach the PhDnet statues.
    4. Announce the election.
      The election committee should announce the election at least two weeks before the election date. This announcement should hold the date and way of the election. You can combine point 3 and 4 in one Announcement. Additionally attach the PhDnet statues.
    5. Announce the candidates.
      The election committee should announce the candidates to all PhD students, one week before the elections are held. One candidate is enough. Additionally attach the PhDnet statues.
    6. Hold the election.
      The election can be held using the online survey tool Limesurvey to enable all PhDs to vote, even if they cannot be physically present at the institute. Using Limesurvey for the election is not compulsory; however most of the institutes use this option. If you want to vote using Limesurvey, please fill the attached document “Request for External Elections” and send it back to me together with the E-mails of the PhD students eligible to vote (use the excel template in the attachment). We will set up the Limesurvey and send the link for the election to all PhDs eligible to vote. An election period of two days is beneficial in order to reach the quorum. Please consider this when announcing the election.
    7. Evaluate the election result.
      The election is only valid if at least 50% of the eligible voters (quorum) participated in the election.
      A candidate is successfully elected when they receive more than 50% of YES votes (elections with only one candidate) or more than 50% of the votes cast (in case of elections with more than one candidate).
      The election will be invalid if the quorum was not reached, or if a candidate did not receive more than 50% of YES votes (single candidate election). In this case, the whole election procedure has to be repeated (from point 1).
      The voting (point 6) will be repeated if a candidate did not receive more than 50% of votes (elections with more than one candidate) in their first round of voting. The two candidates with highest votes shall go into the next round of voting (decided by the Election Committee). If in second round of voting no candidate is elected, the election is invalid and the whole election process (starting from Point 1) has to be repeated.
    8. Report the result of the elections.
      After the election, the election committee should fill the “Report of the election” document. The election committee should ask the newly elected rep to fill the “Statement of Acceptance”. These two documents need to be filled and send to me after the election independent of the kind of election (on paper, Limesurvey or other type of online-election). The term of office of the external PhD representative lasts for one year and starts two weeks after the election.
      All regulations for the elections can also be found in the PhDnet Statutes.

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