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									The Organization

The Max Planck Society is not a goverment institution although it is funded to a large extent
by the federal and state goverment. Instead, it is a registered association with its registered
seat in Berlin. However, the administrative headquarters and office of the President are
located in Munich.
The Max Planck Society research institutes perform basic research in the interest of the
general public in natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. In this
respect the institutes can be grouped together in three sections:
     biological-medical (BM),
     chemical-physical-technical (CPT)
     humanities (Hum).

In order to ensure that this large research organization with around 80 institutes functions
efficiently certain governing bodies are required within the Society.

- The General Meeting of members of the Max Planck Society, which does not only consist of
the directors of the different institutes, but includes supporting members coming from outside
of the Society forms the principle governing body. Beside other duties it elects the members
of the Senate, which is the central decision-making and supervisory body of the Society.
- The Senate decides upon the establishment or closure of institutes, on the appointments of
scientific members and institute directors, as well as on the budget. It elects the President and
the members of the Executive Committee for a term of six years, and appoints the Secretary

The President represents the Max Planck Society, sets guidelines for research policies and
presides over the Senate, the General Meeting, and the Executive Committee, which advises
the President and prepares important decisions. Although the administrative body is
important, it will not affect your everyday life at the institute and it is highly probable that you
will not be in close contact with them. Yet you might encounter another important controlling
body of the Max-Planck Society, which are the Scientific Advisory Boards. They evaluate the
quality of the work of every department. This is necessary because every director is
independent and free in his strategic decisions. This does not only concern the research part,
but also payment and other administrative work, which can be handled differently in every
institute or even department.

The History

The Max Planck Society was founded on February 26, 1948 in Göttingen, and is the successor
organization to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science. The Society
defined itself as a research organization that enjoys autonomy to perform basic research of a
high international standard.
The first president was Otto Hahn, who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1944. In
1948 the Max Planck Society had 25 institutes and a budget of approx. DM 7 million (EUR
3.6 million).
On March 24, 1949, education and finance ministers from the 11 states and West Berlin
adopted the Königsteiner Agreement on permanent federal and state funding of research
facilities like the Max Planck Society.
During the 1950s the former Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes were integrated into the Max Planck
Society, leading to a concentration on basic research and the claim to scientific excellence.
In June 1960 Otto Hahn handed over the office of president to Adolf Butenandt, winner of the
Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1939. The Max Planck Society totaled 40 institutes and research
facilities, had roughly 2,600 employees (including approx. 750 scientists), and a budget of
DM 80 million (EUR 40.9 million).
During the following decades the MPS grew constantly. In 1970 already 8,000 were working
for the MPS and the budget had been rose to more than DM 400 million (EUR 204.5 million).
Before the reunion of the two German states the MPS had institutes in all of the western
federal state. During this time Reimar Lüst (1972-1984) an astrophysicist and the chemist
Heinz A. Staab (1984-1990) assumed the office of president.
In summer 1990 Heinz A. Staab handed over the office of president to the lawyer Hans F.
During the 1990s, a program for Growth, Consolidation and Quality Management after
German Reunification was initiated. The program ran from 1990-1996 and pursued the goal
of strengthening the universities in the eastern states by establishing 27 working groups, 2
branches of institutes as well as the supervision of 7 centers for the humanities. At the same
time there was a long-term program to found new institutes: By 1998, 18 institutes, one
subinstitute as well as a research unit were established in the eastern states, promoting
sciences in the new part of germany.
In summer 1996, behavioural biologist Hubert Markl assumed office of president.
Simultaneous building up and cutting back led to an intensified consolidation in western
states; 4 institutes were closed down (Cell Biology, the Gmelin Institute, Behavioral
Physiology, Biology) and a partial closure (Aeronomy), enabling generous support for the
states in eastern Germany.
In 1999 a System Evaluation of the Max Planck Society and the Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft was carried out, during which the Max Planck Society initiated new
programs to network research among its institutes (Inter-Institutional Research Initiatives),
with university clinics (Tandem Projects), with the universities (Research Groups), and to
support junior scientists (International Max Planck Research Schools).
In summer 2002, Peter Gruss, former Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical
Chemistry in Göttingen, was elected president.

Max Planck

Karl Ernst Ludwig Max Planck was born in Kiel, 23 April 1858. His parents were Johann
Julius Wilhelm von Planck, a professor in jurisprudence and his second wife Emma. After
moving to Munich in 1867 Max went to the Maximilian Gymnasium and passed his leaving
examination in the summer of 1874. His school report foresaw that he “shows great promise”.
He decided to study physics in Munich from the winter semester of 1874/75 and moved to
Berlin to complete his studies in 1877 where he was taught by Gustav Kirchhoff and Hermann
von Helmholtz, leading physicists in the second part of the 19th century.
In the summer of 1879 he received his doctor of philosophy and one year later he handed in
his habilitation.
He stayed in Munich and worked as a university teacher for 5 years before he accepted an
appointment as an associate professor to the university of Kiel in the summer semester of
1885. Four years later he accepted a call to the university of Berlin, where he became director
of the institute for theoretical Physics.
At the end of1900 Max Planck published his results on the theoretical derivation of the
radiation law and introduced the Planck quantum of action, the modern physics were born.
For this achievement he received the Nobel Prize in the year of his 60th birthday.
In 1930 he became president of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Society and remained in this position
until 1937, when under pressure by the National Socialists he quit this position, but stayed in
Germany during the Second World War. The Kaiser-Wilhelm Society was re-established
under his presidency in 1945. After handing over the position to Otto Hahn, he became
honorary president of the newly founded Max-Planck Society. Max Planck died in Göttingen
7th October 1947 aged 90 years.


Minerva is a Roman goddess of crafts and wisdom usually depicted wearing a coat of mail, a
helmet, and carrying a spear. She is the daughter of Jupiter and Metis and was not born in the
usual way but emerged from her father already fully armed.
In 1926 the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Society, a kind of predecessor of the Max-Planck-Society, chose
her as a logo and it was kept as such in 1948 when the Max-Planck society was founded.


Within the MPG students can either be employed under a working contract or be supported by
a stipend.
Students employed under a working contract are paid a monthly salary according to one half
EG13 TVöD salary. TVöD means Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst – public services
tariff regulations, formerly BAT. PhD students have to work the regular amount of hours per
day and have a fixed amount of vacation days per year. The amount of money paid according
to these tariff conditions is dependant on relevant years of experience in the field the
employee is working in. PhD students are normally supposed to have no previous working
experience since they only work in a distinct field and under distinct contract conditions
which count towards this regulation. Working contracts for PhD students are usually provided
for 2 years with the possibility to extend the contract twice for six months.
Students supported by a stipend are not employed within the legal definition of this term.
They do not pay tax and they do not contribute to the social system. In turn, they are not
covered by the social system, e.g. in terms of health insurance and support in term of
Furthermore, there is no work obligation as with a working contract. Because stipends provide
monetary supply outside the german social system they have been offered regularly to non-
german students who do not wish to stay in germany and thus have no interest in participating
in the german social security network. The basic amount of stipends granted by the MPG is up
to € 1000, but can be increased up to € 1365/€ 1340 (old/new federal states). This increase has
to be justified by the competitive acquisition of the PhD student which is in most cases a
formality depending of the scientific director‟s opinion and financial means. There is a bonus
of € 154 for married PhD students and a bonus for childcare expenses of € 154/205/256 (1
child/2 children/3 or more children). Additionally, an allowance of € 103, the so-called
“Sachkostenpauschale”, is paid monthly. Stipends are provided for 2 years with the possibility
to extend the contract twice for six months.
It has been a rule that german students are offered a contract and non-german students are
offered a stipend for the above mentioned reasons. Generally, every student can be paid by
either form of monetary support. The final decision of how the PhD student is supported
resides with the scientific director. A switch from one payment form to the other is always
possible. A student can propose his or her director to change the form of payment at any time.
If doing so, one should consider the following aspects:
The net amount of money you receive from a stipend is higher than the monthly net income
from a working contract provided you are getting the maximal amount of stipend support. If
you want to switch from a working contract to a stipend, employing you will cost your
director half the money he would spend for you if you were in a working contract. This is
because the employer has as well to contribute the german social system when employing
you. Concretely, a director can employ one PhD student under a working contract, or,
alternatively, support two PhD students with a stipend from the same money. Thus, providing
you a stipend instead of a working contract is an attractive option for a scientific director.
When supported by a stipend, you are not covered by the social security network any longer,
and thus have to get your own, in most cases private health insurance. The cost for this health
insurance can in some cases completely eliminate the financial benefit of a stipend compared
to a working contract. So please carefully check your options for health insurance before
agreeing to be paid by a stipend.
Working under a stipend granted by the MPG does not count as work experience relevant to
the grading system of TVöD. If you want to stay in Germany as a Postdoc, you will enter the
tariff system at the lowest level. This does not account for work under a working contract
regulated by TVöD or an external stipend.
If you have any questions regarding your payment, your local work council (“Betriebsrat”) is
a good address to get further information and help.

PhD Advisory Committees (PACs)

PhD Advisory Committees (PACs) are a new concept of PhD student supervision which have
been successfully installed at some MPIs and International „Max Planck Research Schools‟
(IMPRS). The concept of PACs is that every student is provided with three supervisors: One
of them is the direct supervisor, one of them is chosen by the student itself and a third one is
coming from the university by which the student is awarded his or her PhD degree. Given this
support, an independent supervision and evaluation of the student‟s PhD project work is
ensured. A PAC may also serve to gain differential input from the secondary and tertiary
supervisor. PACs should get together to evaluate the student‟s progress and situation at least
once per year. At the first meeting, the PhD project/dissertation proposal should be presented
and then discussed. The following meetings should ensure that the projects are running
smoothly and will be finished on time. Cancellation of unproposing projects could be advised
by the PAC. Protocols of PAC meetings should afterwards be sent to all PAC members.
As yet PACs are routinely installed only at some institutes and in some IMPRS as there is no
uniform regulation for all institutes within the MPS. However, every PhD student can ask
his/her director whether he would agree on an installation of a PAC for him- or herself.

The PhDNet

The MPG-wide PhD student‟s network (PhDNet) was first established in 2002, when PhD
students from several institutes realized that their local interests and difficulties were quite
similar. When PhD students from different institutes grouped together to promote their
interests together, they soon realized that they had created a new platform for communication,
cooperation and empowerment of political issues concerning PhD students within the MPS.
Thus, the Max Planck PhD Network, or PhDNet was founded as an online forum and
networking site to foster communication on issues affecting PhD students within the MPS on
their professional and every-day lives.
The aims of the PhDNet are to represent all students within the MPS and to advocate your
interests in front of the MPS. We further organize multidisciplinary scientific symposia,
seminars and workshops. Besides promoting a uniform wage policy to best meet the
requirements of both parties, we are trying to establish PhD Advisory Committees (PACs).
In its actual form, the PhDNet is constituted by representatives from every Max-Planck
institute. Representatives meet once per year in a general assembly in which general issues
and the strategic development are discussed. In the general assembly a spokesperson and
section representatives are elected, further, new working groups are formed picking up recent
topics and discussing stratagies to address the problem in the following year. In a following
session the PhDNet addresses current issues for discussion to a high representative of the
The work of PhD representatives and working group members is voluntary and offers a
unique opportunity to meet and cooperate with many interesting and motivated people. It
enables us to gain experience in organizing tasks, event management, publishing, fundraising
and networking.
To learn more about the PhDNet, check our website at www.phdnet.mpg.de where you will
find the latest news as well as background information. If you are interested in participating in
the activities of the Max-Planck PhD student's network, contact your local PhD Committee.

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