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Call for applications for Theme


What is a Theme?

The Pufendorf Institute’s aim is to provide researchers at Lund University with an opportunity to develop issues where researchers from different disciplines work together on a research issue. A Theme should therefore revolve around research issues that can only be addressed through the application of knowledge from several disciplines in collaboration.

A Theme will usually require the participation of 8-10 researchers from several faculties at the University. We do not specify that a certain number of disciplines must be represented.

The essential thing is that the Theme brings together the skills needed to successfully address the chosen issue.

The Theme must be innovative in nature. It may therefore be at a stage where actual research funding is not yet available, and the Theme is not expected to be in a position to produce publishable research results during the year at the Institute. However, the objective of the Theme’s work must be clear and focused on paving the way for future opportunities for research on the subject. Work on a Theme usually involves the development of perspectives, definitions, conceptual apparatus, investigative models, etc. These research goals can subsequently result in different types of research communication. The Institute does not specify requirements for the type of activities, but would like to see a description of how the Theme’s objective relates to a longer-term vision for the development of the issue.

A Theme at the Pufendorf Institute is a unique opportunity and members are expected to pursue the work with intellectual effort and academic courage. Every single member must be prepared for a challenge, and the group must be ready to question and possibly amend its original perspectives. When assessing an application, emphasis is placed on its creativity and versatility, on the composition of the group’s expertise being appropriate and on the feasibility of it achieving its objective.

The Institute offers

The institute offers space and time and for both joint and individual work. Working time is spent in a stimulating work environment in historical premises. Administrative, practical and technical support is available on site.

Working hours

As a rule, the members of the Theme must spend 20% of their working hours at the Pufendorf Institute over eight consecutive months. The coordinator and the assistant coordinator (if relevant) may work slightly longer hours (see section on budget).

The members’ departments will be reimbursed for the working hours that the researchers commit to work at the Institute.

The Theme’s members

The organisational arrangement requires that the Theme’s researchers have a position at Lund University, from which they can take leave for the corresponding working hours on the Theme.

A Theme must be well-balanced in terms of knowledge and experience in relation to the issues that are to be worked on. The areas of knowledge must be merged to create a whole. Work in interdisciplinary Themes is particularly suitable for researchers who have managed to achieve a stable foundation within their own areas of knowledge. The requirements for employment at Lund University and the expected scope of the work contribution on the Theme must be clear to all at the time of application. Also please note:

Activities at the Pufendorf Institute are aimed primarily at employees of Lund University. Researchers employed at external institutions may be included among the waged members of the Theme in exceptional cases, on the condition that they can participate in scheduled work on site in Lund. In cases where an external researcher acts as a member of a Theme, the Institute reaches an agreement with the researcher’s institution, which is reimbursed for payroll costs excluding overheads.

If a researcher in a Theme changes employer during the period, he or she may continue in the group, as long as it is possible to continue to take part in the work in Lund. If a participant is prevented from taking part in the work at the Institute, the remuneration ceases. The Theme may then replace the participant with another employee at Lund University, if necessary.

Doctoral students are welcome to become part of a Theme, with the approval of their head of department and supervisor, but they are not funded. As unpaid members, they have no obligations towards the Institute. The composition of expertise in the Theme cannot therefore be based decisively on the knowledge contributed by a doctoral student.

A wider network of interested researchers can also be linked to a Theme. These researchers are welcome to take part in the work, but have no obligations towards the Institute and their competence cannot be decisive for the Theme’s work either.

Guests and visiting researchers

The Theme is able on an ongoing basis to invite external guests from both Swedish and international higher education institutions for seminars and other more short-term activities. The Theme may also invite international guests for collaboration for a longer period of time. These persons will be employed at the Institute as visiting researchers. This opportunity is aimed at researchers who conduct their main research activities at a university outside Sweden.

The opportunity to invite foreign visiting researchers is offered through a special programme set up by the LMK Foundation. A Theme can invite several visiting researchers, who can divide their stay into two spells if desired. A visiting researcher is expected to stay in Lund and work together with the Theme for a minimum of one and a maximum of four months.

Costs of visiting researchers are outside the budget applied for by the Theme, but it is preferred if the nomination of candidates is included in the application. Potential visiting researchers should have been invited and have expressed a provisional indication of their interest by giving their approval to their CV being included in the application.

The Institute’s requirements

A Theme must be concluded with a forward-looking activity with an emphasis on future issues and continued research in the area. The form of the group’s summarising activity can constitute a film, a conference, a publication or something else. The members of the Theme must submit a brief report summarising the group’s results in relation to the objectives and discuss the interdisciplinary process that has been developed.
All members undertake to participate in the surveys that form the basis of the development of the Institution’s activities.

Advanced Study Group – an alternative with a less commitment and fewer requirements

If the concept for the Theme is not sufficiently mature or if the commitment is deemed to be too extensive, it may be a good idea for the group to apply to form an Advanced Study Group (ASG). An ASG has a more limited objective and therefore requires less of a work commitment. (See call for application for ASG.)

Structure of the application

The application must be written on the basis that it will be assessed by foreign experts without any knowledge of Lund University or Swedish conditions. The usual use of references to associated research must be applied in the application, and a proposal for a Theme should include:

  • a description of a multidisciplinary research issue;

  • a description of the group’s research objectives during the year of the Theme in relation to the selected issue;

  • a presentation of participating researchers to support the contribution their knowledge will make to the Theme;

  • a plan describing how it is intended to structure the Theme’s work during the year.


The budget gives the Theme a cost framework; the sum is not paid to the group as research funding. The salaries of researchers are paid at the Institute and the financial and administrative services are managed by the Institute’s staff. At the end of the Theme, on the last day of the Theme’s second semester, access to the cost framework ceases and any remaining funds are returned to the Institution (although any outstanding invoices are paid after this date).

The total cost of a Theme may not exceed the equivalent of SEK 2 million.
The budget, which is attached on a separate form, must include the costs of reimbursement to the Theme’s researchers. Salaries for eight months are calculated including payroll cost surcharges. Note that indirect costs (overheads) must not be included in the budget. Indirect costs at central and faculty level are automatically added to the amount applied for. However, overheads are not paid to institutions as the Institute is providing the workplace and administrative services.

Individual researchers in the role of coordinator may be reimbursed to a maximum of 40%. If there are two coordinators, their participation may be reimbursed to a maximum of 60% of an annual salary in total.
It is helpful if other costs, for example for seminars and other events, are specified in the application. Costs of the concluding summary activity are reimbursed to a maximum of SEK 100,000. External funds must be sought for particularly expensive events.

Costs of visiting researchers staying 1- 4 months (see above) must not be included in the budget, as these are met by the Institute through a special fund. Costs for shorter visits by temporary guests however, are to be specified.

The Pufendorf Institute’s mandate is to stimulate collaboration between researchers from different disciplines within Lund University. For this reason, only in exceptional cases may modest contributions be granted for travel to a conference or field work.


The application must be written in English and separated into three documents with the following content:

Document 1
A description of a research issue and a strategy describing how the work is to be undertaken on a maximum of five pages (excl. continuation sheet and references). The continuation sheet specifies title of the Theme and the names of participating researchers with their institutional affiliation.

Document 2
Relevant CVs of participating researchers, with a maximum of one page per participant. An English translation must be provided for titles of Swedish publications. Experience of management is relevant for coordinators.
Relevant CVs of proposed visiting researchers, maximum five pages per researcher.

Document 3
Budget: Download the institute ́s budget template. Fill in the yellow highlighted areas only. Other areas are not to be formatted and no new areas may be created. Save and submit with the application.

Institute's Excel template: Pufendorfinstitutets budgetmall i Excel, för Temaansökan.(15 KB.)

Decision-making process

Decisions on new Themes are made by the Board of the Pufendorf Institute. Once the Board has confirmed a shortlist in January, the applications are sent to external experts for assessment. The processing time is estimated at just over two months, which means that a decision can be made in March 2022.

For questions or information, please feel free to contact:
Ann-Katrin Bäcklund, Director, ann-katrin [dot] backlund [at] pi [dot] lu [dot] se, ext.: 2 04 71
Eva Persson, coordinator, eva [dot] persson [at] pi [dot] lu [dot] se, ext.: 2 62 03

We look forward to receiving your application!

Call for applications, Theme start september 2022