Frequently asked questions

Photo by Edwin Andrade

Who counts as a researcher?
Researchers are scientists (doctoral students, postdocs, professors) for whom research is one of their main activities. At least one researcher from UZH or ETH must be involved.

I am a doctoral student/a postdoc and would like to submit an application. Should I name my advisor/the professor of the chair I am working with as the applicant?
The person who would like to carry out or develop the project should be the contact person. We assume that you consult your supervisors and discuss the planned application with them.

Can researchers from the national ETH domain apply for a Seed Grant?
Yes, researchers from WSL, EMPA, EAWAG, PSI and EPFL are also eligible to apply.

Who counts as a citizen?
Persons who do not hold a scientific position at the UZH/ ETH or another university.

Do we have to include citizens' CVs with the application?
A classical CV is not required for citizens. However, a description of the research competences of citizens should be provided. This can be a document or a short text describing the background of the person(s).

What can be added to the ten pages as an appendix?
Please enclose CVs or documents in the appendix. In addition, you can enclose documents that you consider important in order to evaluate the application. Of course, the appendix should not be overloaded.

What can the money be used for?
The use of the money is quite free, can be used for salaries, events, workshops, travel etc.. We ask you to prepare a budget as detailed as possible. Adjustments are still possible, but you should give the reviewers an idea of what you plan to do with the funds.

In what period of time do the funds have to be used?
In the course of twelve months.

Should in-kind contributions be mentioned?
You can - but do not have to - state what contributions you bring in yourself. This can be working time, infrastructure or similar. Depending on the project idea, what you contribute can vary greatly.

The application form states that moderation or process support can be advantageous. What does that mean?
A professional moderation/process support can be a very useful support. It can help the group work together, do "translation work", help to reflect on the group process and much more.

My project is coming to an end and I need follow-up funding - can I apply for a Seed Grant?
The intention of the Seed Grant is to initiate and implement new projects. If the application follows on from an existing project, it must be clear how the new project differs from the existing one and which new participatory elements are being promoted.

I do research abroad. Is it possible to get a seed grant for a project outside Switzerland?
There is no geographical limitation. However, we would like to be able to accompany and evaluate the projects. You should therefore demonstrate how this is possible. Of course, this also applies to projects carried out in Zurich/Switzerland.

If we get an approval for the Seed Grant, when does the project have to start?

We will arrange the official start of the project with you. It may be necessary to obtain documents or there are framework conditions for your project that specify or influence a timeframe.

For our project, we must obtain an ethics vote. It takes about three months until we receive a decision. Is that a problem?

No - please simply describe what documents you need to obtain and what the timeframe is.

What criteria are used to evaluate the applications?

We collect two reviews for each application and pick reviewers according to their thematic expertise. The applications and the reviews are then discussed in a committee, in which researchers, citizens and the Mercator Foundations Switzerland is represented.
When evaluating the applications,reviewers are asked to assess the following points: quality of the project and the work programme, degree and design of participation, methods of cooperation, desired impact, feasibility, sustainability or prospects for follow-up projects. At the PWA we are also interested in finding out what works well in your projects and what does not. Accordingly, reviewers are also asked to assess the  possibility of monitoring and evaluating the project in their evaluation.

Who are the reviewers?
We ask scientists and people with expertise in citizen science and participatory projects to serve as reviewers. Your application will most likely be evaluated by a person from your field. It may, however, also be read by people not from your sub-field. Your application should hence by readable and accessible by people who are smart, but maybe smart in a field slightly different from yours.

The final funding decision will be made by a commission consisting of professors, citizens, a representative of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the PWA managing office.

I know that my advisor has been asked to be a reviewer/is a member of the board of the PWA. Is that a problem?
No. When selecting the reviewers, we pay attention to possible bias.

What kind of reporting do I need to do if I am awarded a Seed Grant?  What do I have to submit and when?
You report on the seed phase in writing after completion. Questions structuring the report will be provided by the PWA. Dates will be arranged according to the project schedule.

I have a question that is not answered here. Who can I contact?

Olivia Höhener