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 representative at your institute and 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 collects important information for all doctoral researchers in the Max Planck Society, and shares this information online via:


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. This is why we, together with the Steering Group, want to visit local institutes to discuss common issues e.g. contract vs. stipend, health insurance and spread the word about PhDnet. Tell us if you'd like to have one of us at your institute.

External Representatives Elections

In 2015, new statutes were approved in the General Meeting describing the official procedure for the election of External Representatives. The secretary group collects the information of all elections, keeping open track and records, and helps 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 the General Secretary of PhDnet. If you want help from the Secretary Group to organize the online elections of the External PhD Representatives, please contact the person responsible of your section.

If you are not sure to which section you belong, just have a look at our list of Representatives. After every External Representative election, a record of the election and an acceptance statement signed by the elected External Representative has to be handed in to the General Secretary.

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 doctoral researchers 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 doctoral researcher 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. If you have difficulties finding candidates, we can provide you   with further documents that might help you for advertising and promoting PhDnet and the external representative position.

  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 doctoral researchers, 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 doctoral researchers eligible to vote (use the excel template in the attachment).
    I will set up the Limesurvey and send the link for the election to all PhDs eligible to vote. An election period of at least 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 participated in the election. The candidate receiving more than 50% of the valid votes in the first round of voting is elected. If there is only one candidate she or he must receive more than 50% YES votes to be elected. If no candidates receives more than 50% of votes a second round of election is held.

  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 external representative 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.

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