Frequently asked questions about the Helmholtz Prize 2024

Can I apply for the prize myself, or does someone else have to recommend me?
Both options are available. For the Helmholtz Prizes awarded in the past several years, most applicants made their own submissions; third-party recommendations were rare. When the members of the expert committee evaluate the submissions, they do not take into account whether applicants submit their own work or are recommended.
Who are the members of the expert committee?
The expert committee is composed of five renowned scientists who represent the subject areas relevant for the Helmholtz Prize: physics, chemistry, medicine and engineering.
Are any subjects beyond the scope of Helmholtz Prize submissions?
Your work should focus on one or more of the following areas: precision measurements in physics, chemistry, medicine or engineering. The expert committee must be able to recognize that applicants for the Helmholtz Prize have made their own individual scientific or technological contribution to obtain their measurement result – and that precision is among their criteria, although the definition of "precision" changes depending on the subject.
Is prior publication of the paper a requirement (or a disqualifier)?
Prior publication of the paper is not a requirement. If it has already been published, publication must have taken place within the last two years, as the Helmholtz Prize is awarded projects which have been completed recently.
Can I submit an original publication, or should I prepare a manuscript specifically for the application?
Both options are available. Although submitting an original publication means less work for you, please note that, because the expert commission is made up of only five people, no expert with knowledge of your specific field will be available to review your work. For this reason, if you submit an original publication, please ensure it is written in such a way that its meaning and inventiveness are recognizable even to those who are not the most advanced experts in the given field. Under certain circumstances, it may be better if you create a manuscript specifically designed for this application. Experience has shown that most applicants prefer this latter approach.
How long should the paper be/what length is acceptable?
There are no specific rules for the length of a paper; normal practices for scientific manuscripts apply.
Which language does the manuscript have to be written in?
In German or in English. All manuscripts, including those written in English, must include a German title and abstract.
Can the prize be shared by more than one person?
Yes. For more information, please consult the following question.
This publication has X number of persons listed as authors, but only Y (Y < X) wish to apply for the Helmholtz Prize. Is this possible?
Yes. However, in a case such as this, the members of the expert committee will wonder why only a subset of Y authors are to be commended when the contributions of X number of persons to the content of the publication were important enough for their names to have been listed as authors. This point should be explained when submitting the application. The commendation of one person representing a large collaboration is not in the spirit of the Helmholtz Prize – the scientific and/or metrological contribution(s) of one commended person or of a small group of people must be discernable in a comprehensible way.
I will never truly “complete” my work, but I have an excellent intermediate result. Would I be in the running for the Helmholtz Prize?
Projects commended by the Helmholtz Prize must have been recently completed; in other words, they must have answered a question relevant to science or technology. To a certain extent, the exact meaning of “completed” is open to interpretation. Some experiments are never fully completed, as answering one question generates new questions. Nevertheless, clear scientific results are often achieved – even if the experimental setup is then rebuilt or has elements added to it. Where such results have been completed, they may fulfil the prerequisites for the Helmholtz Prize.
On the other hand, if researchers have merely completed the construction of a setup and are now ready to begin taking measurements, this is not yet relevant for the Helmholtz Prize; however, a submission may be possible in a later year once scientific results are available.
How will I know if my application was successful?
The awardee(s) will be notified immediately following the committee's meeting, which is likely to take place at the end of March or at the beginning of April. All Helmholtz Prize applicants should have received written notification by around mid-April 2024.
Is the awarding ceremony open to the general public? How will it proceed?
The Helmholtz Prize will be awarded on 28 August 2024 in Hamburg as part of the XXVI IMEKO World Congress. Lectures given by the awardees on the scientific results of their outstanding work are an important component of the awarding ceremony.
In the hour when the prize is to be awarded (normally in the late afternoon), a lecture will be given in which the awardee(s), among others, will present their work in front of the expected 700 confernence participants.
My work is not related to IMEKO or the IMEKO World Congress. Should I apply anyway?
IMEKO is not related in any way to the expert committee’s selection process, nor does it influence this process in any way. If the Helmholtz Prize is in any way thematically linked to IMEKO, this can only have been a matter of pure coincidence.
Prof. Dr. Andrey Surzhykov
Coordinator of the Helmholtz Prize
Phone: +49 (0)531 592 8100
Email: andrey.surzhykov@ptb.de