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Research – Research System and Science Dynamics

Research – Research System and Science Dynamics


The Research System and Science Dynamics research area is dedicated to analysing developments in the German research system. It not only seeks to describe and localise the German system in an international context, but also to analyse the system’s dynamics, in particular with regard to the interdependency of different governance, financing, and funding policies.

The Research System and Science Dynamics research area is subdivided into three research units which examine the research system from various perspectives and with different methodological approaches (e.g. scientometric approaches, empirical social research approaches – qualitative as well as quantitative – comparative). The three research units collaborate with the other departments of the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) according to their thematic foci.

Research Unit Assessment and Indicators

This research unit deals with basic questions concerning the possibilities of inter-subjectively shared assessments of relevant scientific content. In addition to classic review procedures in journals and conferences, and the funding of personnel and research, that also includes evaluations. The unit also examines the impact of evaluations, rankings/ratings, performance-based budget allocation procedures or voluntary benchmarking-procedures. Thus the unit’s research focuses in particular on assessment practices, their organisation and impact on decision-making processes; their effects on the research system are examined in relation to research excellence and quality assurance. This unit also focusses particularly on the development and practical application of indicator-based assessments for the measurement of research performance or budget allocation and examines their impact on the science system. Bibliometrics take a special position in this respect, because on the one hand they are considered a methodological tool; on the other hand bibliometrics represent an independent research area which also uses non-bibliometric procedures to develop and validate bibliometric indicators. The Centre for Bibliometrics funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in 2008 and affiliated with the Research System and Science Dynamics research area, provides a qualitative and sustainable dataset for bibliometric analysis. Consequently, studies on current research information systems, their construction, usage and acceptance are located in this research unit.

The research area furthermore offers a wide range of research-based services in the field of bibliometrics. The portfolio includes in particular the development and validation of indicators as well as comparative bibliometric analyses that are particularly useful for monitoring and evaluation processes. We offer analyses of research in terms of productivity and impact, networks and collaborations, research profile and thematic focus as well as analyses of publication strategies by using an advanced set of methodological instruments. Customers’ requests are designed individually to fit clients’ needs in regard to the object of investigation and dimensions of the analysis. Our analyses thus aim at examining the performance of countries, regions or institutions or disciplines as well as organizational units such as universities, institutes etc. in a comparative regard and over the course of time. Typical fields of application are

  • system- and country analyses
  • analyses for organizations (Higher Education institutions, non-university research centres and compounds)
  • analyses of funding effects

Bibliometric analyses can be executed as stand-alone products or embedded into more extensive evaluation and monitoring activities.

Research Unit Self-Regulation and Funding

Although the principle of self-regulation is essential to the research system, it is at the same time exposed to considerable influences by different stakeholders, due to continual increases in third-party funding and proposal-bound funding of research projects. This research unit therefore addresses the finances of the research system. In addition to total expenditures and actual endowments, particular attention is paid to the terms of the funding allocation. The impact of monopolistic or pluralistic funding systems, strategic or unconditional funding, institutional or proposal-bound, initial or long-term funding as well as university or non-university research institutions are key elements for the assessment of the science system’s overall performance. The funding modalities are part of the science system’s governance. As individual research institutions become increasingly autonomous, the importance of non-monetary coordination efforts grows steadily. This research unit therefore investigates the system-level ramification of research funding in particular, such as the correlation of an increasingly competitive funding environment and a corresponding surge in research assessment input while grant quotas drop, with the reactions from research funding programs, journal editors, reviewers and researchers, and finally the acceptance of decisions and justifications among researchers. Questions concerning scientific misconduct and the demand for quality assurance are of great importance in this context. This research unit examines such questions with a variety of methods, among them scientists surveys, bibliometric analyses, and not least, collaboration on practical quality assurance procedures.

Research Unit Self-Recruitment and Careers

This research unit takes a look at young researchers and the issues relating to their status in the Science System. Studies such as the ProFile Doctoral Candidates Panel and the EU-funded project RISIS provide information on the different stages of doctoral and postdoctoral education, the course of scientific careers, the motivation of young researchers and the attraction that work in the field of science holds.

In addition, the careers of well-established scientific personnel are analysed in this unit. This includes the examination of recruiting strategies, the structural impact of awards (Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, Reinhart Koselleck Projects, and more), the effects of tenure-track models, chances and limits of the human resource development at higher education institutions, conditions of mobility (reasons and impact), prospects for and obstacles to sectoral mobility (e.g. between the private sector and academia), the retirement of scientists, and further activities of professors emeriti and pensioners.
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