Spotlight on... | 27/03/2023

"Spotlight on..." Visiting Doctoral Fellowship

Last autumn GIGA Doctoral Researcher Mona Saleh spent four months as a Visiting Doctoral Researcher at the European University Institute in Florence. Learn more about Mona's stay in this interview.


  • What made you decide to do a Visiting Doctoral Fellowship?

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions, as was the case for many other colleagues, my opportunities for travel and exposure had been limited. However, as soon as restrictions were relaxed, I decided to pursue a research stay, which I did at the Political Science Department of the European University Institute (EUI) for four months in fall of last year. One of my primary motivations for this research stay was to collaborate in person with my second supervisor, Prof. Stephanie Hofmann, and to take advantage of the opportunities EUI provides in terms of exposure and networking. I also had the opportunity to engage with recognized experts in international relations and international organizations with regard to the topic of my dissertation.

    How did you get in touch with your host institution and how did you arrange your stay?

    The Visiting Fellows & Visiting Students program offered by EUI accepts applications from self-funded scholars wishing to spend a period of time doing research at the university. I applied for the program nine months before my intended research stay and specified my research interests and the supervisor I hoped to work with. After receiving an acceptance letter two months later, I had enough time to plan for the logistics of my travel. I believe that having a professor at the host institution willing to sponsor my application and an endorsement letter from my first supervisor contributed to the success of my application.

    What advice would you give someone who wants to do a Visiting Doctoral Fellowship?

    I highly recommend anyone interested in pursuing a research stay to do so. It was a tremendous learning experience and provided an opportunity to network and connect with fellow PhD researchers and post-docs who are working on similar topics. To prepare for the application process, I recommend researching and reaching out to a potential mentor/supervisor who will be willing to sponsor your application and noting application deadline. It is also important to plan for the financial aspect of the research stay well in advance.

    What do you take away from your stay and how did it impact your dissertation?

    During my fellowship, I was able to focus on writing an empirical chapter of my dissertation and make use of the library resources. I also had the opportunity to discuss my work and receive feedback. Attending seminars with experts in my field and engaging in discussions with fellow colleagues further helped me refine the theoretical framework of my dissertation. The EUI hosts a large PhD program, with regular colloquiums and other opportunities to present research. It provided me with the supportive environment necessary at this stage of my PhD, as well as the chance to network within my field of study and establish valuable contacts for the future.

    GIGA Doctoral Programme

    The GIGA has a long tradition of integrating young researchers into its research structure. This tradition culminated in the establishment of the GIGA Doctoral Programme. This programme seeks to provide a platform for young, international, and German academics, from which they can pursue their research and professional development, particularly in the field of comparative area studies (CAS).

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