A key career step: Junior research team leadership

After obtaining your doctorate degree, you’ve worked in a research position for several years and have publications in international journals under your belt. A leadership position in a junior research team could be your next career move.

You have completed your doctorate and have gained several years’ worth of experience in international research. Now, it is time for the next step. One attractive option is leading a junior research group. This position enables you to conduct your own research project with a team of young researchers and qualify for a professorship or another leadership position at a research institute.

At research universities, the team leadership may be in the form of a junior professorship and can involve not only research but also teaching and administrative duties.

Leadership positions in a junior research team are often supported with funds from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) or other organizations. Typically, teams are supported for five years but funding can also extend to nine years.

Junior research group leaders are well positioned to advance their scientific careers. Having experience in independently realizing a research project, in managing staff, in leading a team and in budgeting prepares team leaders for a professorship or a leadership position in another organization.

To apply for a junior team leadership, you need to demonstrate excellent knowledge in your field of research, often through publications in international well-respected journals. Presenting in front of a selection committee is also often required. The positions are typically advertised at the respective university or research institution.