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Higher cut-offs and lower success rates in the 2023 MSCA Doctoral Networks call

11th April 2024 at 10:46 am

The European Commission completed the evaluation of the 2023 MSCA Doctoral Networks (DNs) call, and applicants received the evaluation results on 9 April 2024.

On 28 November 2023, the European Research Executive Agency received 1,066 proposals. Out of this pool of proposals, the European Commission invited 128 proposals for grant preparation, resulting in an overall success rate of 12%. This success rate is 3.8 percentage points lower than in 2022 (15.8%). In an earlier blog post, we anticipated this important drop in the success rate, as the number of applications significantly increased compared to previous years, most likely because of the increase in the maximum number of researcher months back to 540 months.

The European Commission will award a foreseen total of € 443 million for 113 standard DNs (€ 389.8 million), eight Industrial Doctorates (IDs; € 27.1 million), and seven Joint Doctorates (JDs; € 26.1 million). The success rates across DN types follow the same trend as last year, with the DNs and IDs having higher success rates (12.3% and 12.5%) than the JDs (8.5%).

Figure 1: Evolution of success rates, across MSCA-ITN/DN types

The distribution along the scientific panels remains largely the same. Engineering and ICT (36.7%), Life Sciences (24.2%) and Chemistry (12.5%) are still the most popular panels. Particularly striking is the evolution of the cut-off scores above which proposals are funded. The average funding threshold across panels increased from 94.5 last year to 96.3 (Figure 2). Except for the Economics (ECO) panel, cut-off scores are indeed much higher than last year, with an increase of 3.4 points in Physics (PHY; 97.2), 2.8 in Life Sciences (LIF; 96) and Social Sciences (SOC; 96.2), and 2.6 in Mathematics (MAT; 97.2) (Figure 3). The cut-off scores in the Chemistry (CHE) and Engineering (ENG) panels also increased to 96.2 and 96, respectively.

Consequently, many proposals scoring over 95 did not even make it to the reserve list.

Figure 2: Average funding thresholds in MSCA-ITN/DN, by year.

Figure 3: Funding thresholds in MSCA_ITN/DN, by Panel (2018-2023).

On the reserve list?

The data presented doesn’t incorporate proposals placed on the reserve list. Every year, we observe the top-ranked proposals from this reserve list advancing to the primary list for funding. Those fortunate enough should receive the notification during the summer following the conclusion of EU Grant Agreements with initially selected proposals. For more information about your ranking position, you can contact your local MSCA National Contact Point, who should have access to the ranking list.

Next deadline

Has your proposal been rejected? Or did you miss the last deadline? The next call will open on 29 May 2023, with a deadline on 27 November 2023. If you intend to resubmit your proposal, please note that applications that received a score below 80 the previous year are not eligible for resubmission.

How can accelopment support your DN project?

Continuing our success from Horizon 2020, we are pleased to already be involved in the seven ongoing Horizon Europe DNs MobiliTraIN, DarChemDN, CONcISE, BREAKthrough, MIRELAI, MITGEST, and SYNSENSO. Part of this achievement results from our long-standing experience of over 14 years in supporting and partnering with DNs since FP7. In DNs, we provide professional assistance with Project Management, communication activities and dissemination measures. Additionally, we contribute to their training programmes with our transferable skills courses on research project management, science communication, data management, gender equality, funding opportunities and grant writing.

If you are interested in our support for your newly funded DN project, contact our DN experts, Jacqueline Strehler and Marco Cavallaro.

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Marco Cavallaro

Dr. Marco Cavallaro
Research & Innovation Project Manager

Jacqueline Strehler

Jacqueline Strehler
Research & Innovation Project Manager