Proposal Guidelines for Workshops, Half Size Workshops and Mini-Workshops

The MFO runs weekly Workshops with about 50 participants. Sometimes there are two Workshops of half the size (about 25 participants) taking place in one week. In addition, there are fixed weeks for three Mini-Workshops in parallel, each consisting of about 16 participants.

Workshops at Oberwolfach are research conferences that aim at the same time to report on the state of the art in a particular field of mathematics and to initiate new research. It is therefore a long-standing tradition in Oberwolfach to only have a limited number of talks concentrating on the most important developments in order to leave enough time for research activities among the participants. Thus, not every participant of a full-size Workshop can give a talk and the number of talks should be 25 at most.

Arrival is on Sunday afternoon (see practical hints) and departure is on Saturday morning or Friday evening. Participation in a Workshop is only possible by invitation of the Director, based on suggestion of the organizers. The Institute offers full board and lodging. In general, travel expenses cannot be refunded (with the possible exception of special grants).

Concerning the realization of a Workshop in a hybrid format, which is in particular relevant during strong phases of the pandemic, see our website. As this possibility cannot be foreseen at the time of submission of your proposal, you should plan the Workshop in the traditional Oberwolfach style that expects all participants to come in person to the MFO. The institute is flexible enough to change an approved Workshop to the hybrid format on short-notice if the pandemic development should make this necessary.

Proposal of a Workshop

There is no specific form. A typical size is 3-5 pages containing:

  1. Title and proposed organizers
  2. Abstract
  3. Mathematics subject classification (MSC)
  4. Description of the aim
  5. Preliminary list of proposed participants
  6. Suggested dates

1. Title and proposed organizers

The title should be informative and specific with regard to the topic of the Workshop. Please avoid titles which are very long.

There should be 2-4 proposed organizers (with full address and email address, please). Because of international diversity, at least one of the organizers must come from outside Germany.

It is not compulsory that one of the organizers has to come from Germany, but it is expected that organizers have sufficient overview of German research institutions to be able to identify qualified young researchers who might benefit from an invitation. It is also helpful with regard to detailed organisational questions and contacts to the MFO's staff during the Workshop if one of the organizers speaks some German.

In view of its EDI policy, the Institute aims for diversity in terms of geographic, gender and scientific age distribution among its visitors. In particular it wishes to increase the number of female participants. Proposals with at least one female organizer are strongly encouraged.

If you plan your Workshop as a networking activity, see our special website, please.

2. Abstract

Please include a short abstract of not more than half a page. In case your proposal will be approved, we will publish the abstract on our homepage prior to the Workshop.

Moreover, the abstract can be used afterwards for the Oberwolfach Report of the Workshop, with regard to the listing in MathSciNet and Zentralblatt MATH. Hence, title and abstract should be in English.

3. MSC

Please also include the classification of the Workshop's subject (primary and secondary), according to the latest Mathematics Subject Classification Scheme used by MathSciNet and Zentralblatt. Usually, the first two digits are sufficient. 

4. Description of the aim

Of course, the most important part is a description of the aim of the Workshop including new developments, thematical focus, possibly special lectures of some distinguished expert(s), ...

Concerning your planning of the scientific program and schedule of talks in your Workshop, see also our remark above on the maximal number of talks. It is a tradition in Oberwolfach that the final schedule of talks will be decided only during the first day(s) of the Workshop to give a chance to last minute developments and suggestions of participants.

In some cases (e.g. a very focussed Workshop on a specialized topic), it may be attractive to propose a half-size Workshop. Then every participant in a half size Workshop can give a talk, which is an additional advantage.

Submission of the curriculum vitae and publication lists of the organizers is not compulsory for the proposal, but a list of selected key references for the topic is appreciated.

Please see also our remark on available lecture and working rooms at the end of the guidelines.

In case of further questions concerning the proposal it may be helpful to contact a member of the Oberwolfach Scientific Committee who is close to the subject in advance.

5.  Preliminary list of proposed participants

Please include a preliminary list of about 50 proposed participants (25 for a half size Workshop) containing for each participant the following information:

  • full name
  • city name or short name of the affiliation
  • gender information (F/M/D)
  • junior or senior scientist (Ph.D. age more than 10 years)

Please ensure that you consider the full spectrum of qualified senior and junior female researchers in your area in preparing your application.

At the end, the list of proposed participants should also contain the total gender ratio (F/M/D). In view of the MFO's EDI policy, the ratio of F+D should not be smaller than 20% (please explain otherwise).

Concerning geographic diversity, please take into account that the main part of the MFO's budget comes from the German government and it is expected that a reasonable fraction of the participants comes from Germany (this applies in particular to junior researchers). As a reference value, the average rate (over all activites at the MFO in the past years) is 25% participants from German institutions.

It is not necessary to check availability of proposed invitees before submitting a proposal, but you may do so in case of key participants. Please do not submit lists containing more than 60 names for the proposed invitees. As an option, you may submit a second list of reserve candidates.

6. Suggested dates

You may suggest or exclude dates for your Workshop (this will not affect the decision), and we will do our best to realize your wish in case of a positive decision.

Please note that the chances are better to realize a proposed date which is not in summer. Hence, if you make suggestions, please also suggest at least five weeks which are not in summer.

We thank you for your understanding that we are not able to guarantee suggested dates in case of a positive decision.

Deadline, evaluation, decision and scheduling

Please send a proposal for an Oberwolfach Workshop (or Half Size Workshop or Mini-Workshop) preferably as one pdf file to the MFO's Director, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Huisken, by e-mail to

director@mfo.de

Corresponding organizer: The organizer sending us the proposal may sign on behalf of all organizers in the proposal. Further correspondence of the MFO will only be sent to the organizer who is responsible for the communication and coordination with his co-organizers.

After receipt of your proposal, we shall send you a short confirmation.

The deadline for proposals of Workshops and half size Workshops concerning the year after next year is end of July. For Mini-Workshops, see the section below.

The classification and evaluation procedure then starts, and the decision on all proposals will take place at the annual meeting of the Oberwolfach Scientific Committee in October. You will be notified about the decision in October/November. Of course, all persons involved handle submission, evaluation and decision confidentially.

In case of a positive decision, we shall also inform you on the date of your Workshop. The scheduling of all Workshops will be finalized in December.

Because of the restricted capacity in Oberwolfach, the committee can in some cases approve a Workshop of half size (25 participants) instead of a full-size Workshop. It can also happen that a small number of approved Workshops can be realized in the year after the suggested year only.

Please note that even proposals of Workshops which have taken place several times in Oberwolfach are evaluated each time individually and independently by the Scientific Committee. Criteria like the team of organizers, hot and topical subjects and recurrent renewals of organizing teams play a role in the decision of the Scientific Committee.

Proposal of a Mini-Workshop

Besides the size (about 16 participants) the only formal difference to the proposal of a Workshop is that there are fixed weeks for the Mini-Workshops. You can find these slots, together with the deadlines for application, under the item Mini-Workshops. Please include in your proposal the slot to which you refer, the deadline is about six month prior to the proposed date.

As the Mini-Workshops mainly aim at recent hot topics, the decision process runs very fast. We shall inform you about 3 weeks after the deadline on the decision. Sometimes, for example for reasons of capacity, a Mini-Workshop which is approved may be realized only at the next slot. Hence, please inform us also on other possible slots in case that the next slot should not be possible for you.

Remark on available rooms and working groups

The MFO has three lecture rooms: L1 (large size), L2 and L3 (medium size, where L3 can be splitted to small size rooms L3a and L3b).

Workshops (and Arbeitsgemeinschaften) take place in L1, half size Workshops (and Oberwolfach Seminars) in L1 and L2, and Mini-Workshops in L1, L2 and L3.

In particular, if you are considering a temporary splitting of a full size Workshop in separate groups as official part of your proposed Workshop program, only L2 and L3 would be available. Please note that such splitting has to be requested in the proposal. Unfortunately, we can give no guarantee of realizability because of possible other activities or restrictions on short-notice.

There are further discussion rooms and places with blackboards, also in the outdoor area, some of which are reserved for Oberwolfach Research Fellows and for spontaneous discussions of other small groups.