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What is the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG)

The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, founded by the Max Planck Society in 1985, is an institute for advanced research in the social sciences. It builds a bridge between theory and policy by conducting basic research on the self-organization and governance of modern societies.

Who chooses the questions that guide the MPIfG's research?

The MPIfG does not do contract research. The questions that guide the institute's research are chosen by the institute's directors, in consultation with the institute's research staff, as they are at all other Max Planck institutes. The MPIfG is headed by two directors who take turns serving two-year terms as the institute's managing director and share responsibility for all the research projects and personnel decisions at the institute.

Does the MPIfG provide solutions to society's problems?

Social scientists are seldom able to suggest solutions to societal problems that can be expected to have a specific, measurable impact. Policy making is not a technology, and there will never be social engineering. Why? Because the people and organizations that government policies seek to influence understand the logic behind the policies, and are able to anticipate and counteract their effects. Social research that helps to explain the limits and possibilities of collective solutions to particular problems can provide a valuable contribution to the governance of modern democracies without being able – or even wanting – to know exactly what impact such explanations will have.


Is the MPIfG a college? Can I study there?

No, the MPIfG is a research institute that is not affiliated with a university. In certain cases, if a student's research interest can be integrated into an MPIfG research project, a senior researcher at the institute can serve as a supervisor for a graduate or PhD thesis.
Program for Fellowhips and Visiting Researchers

Who evaluates the MPIfG's research and results?

The MPIfG has many internal evaluation procedures and is evaluated regularly by its Scientific Advisory Board. The job of Scientific Advisory Board of the MPIfG, an independent body of international scholars from fields related to the institute's research, is to evaluate and assess the institute's research projects and their results on a regular basis and to make recommendations to the MPIfG's directors regarding potential new research questions.

Where does the MPIfG publish its results?

The results of the MPIfG's research are made public in many ways. Researchers present them at academic conferences and publish them in scholarly journals and books (scholarly publications are subject to peer review, which means they are reviewed by scholars in the editorial boards of journals and book series who decide if the submitted work meets their publication's standards). Three publication series document the institute's research:

Is the MPIfG library open to the public?

No. The MPIfG library is a reference library for the institute's researchers. Its online catalog is available to the public on the internet. If you would like to use the MPIfG library, please contact the librarian and make an appointment. It is not possible, however, to borrow books.


Who funds the MPIfG?

The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG) is a research institute of the Max Planck Society (MPG). The basic funding of the MPG is provided by the German federal government and state governments. 10 percent of the MPG's whole budget is grant-funded, and 5 percent is covered by membership fees, gifts and self-generated revenues. The MPG provides the MPIfG's basic funding annually, which covers the MPIfG's personnel, materials, fellowships for German junior scientists and cooperation with foreign countries.

How is research conducted at the MPIfG?

Research at the MPIfG takes place in research projects, some of which are conducted by individual researchers, others of which are carried out internationally in cooperation with scholars from other research institutions. The MPIfG considers collaboration with scholars from universities and institutes in other countries to be the best way to conduct comparative research. The research teams meet at workshops and conferences to discuss how the various phases of research – developing the research questions, studying existing literature, collecting data, conducting expert interviews, analyzing the findings and, finally, publishing the results – can best be carried out.

How many people work at the MPIfG?

The MPIfG has 31 permanently funded positions, 14 of which are for researchers. Some 20 other researchers at the institute are funded by grants from foundations, and the European Union, and by doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships. The institute also hosts many visiting researchers from Germany and abroad.

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MPIfG - FAQ | http://www.mpifg.de/institut/faq_en.asp [Last updated 02.06.2017]