DZHW-Research Group „Tenure Track“

Start of the project: 01-Jan-2022 - End of the project: 31-Dec-2024

In Germany, academic career paths, personnel structures in higher education as well as associated individual career decisions and models of professorial recruitment have been undergoing a comprehensive change for more than two decades. The recent legal institutionalisation of and financial support for tenure-track professorships within the framework of the Joint Federal Government-Länder Funding Programme for Junior Academics is considered a pivotal component of reform. The introduction of tenure-track professorships is not only intended as an institutional extension of access routes to lifetime professorships. Instead, the aim is to instigate a comprehensive cultural change in the scientific career system as a whole by establishing and promoting an alternative path to tenured professorships, making potentials rather than documented scientific achievement the basis for an earlier job security in the science system.

The interdepartmental DZHW research group “Tenure Track” investigates these developments addressing selected questions from the perspective of higher education and science research. Thematically, the research is divided into three subprojects that are closely interlinked: The topics include (1) a comparative analysis of the more diversified career paths and professorial status positions, for example, with respect to institutional framework conditions, professorial research profiles and activities, and private lifestyles. The basis for this is a new database in which professors from German universities are surveyed about their career paths in a panel design. (2) Another contribution uses data from the DZHW science survey to investigate whether and to what extent junior researchers and doctoral graduates below the level of tenured professors (including tenure-track professorships) differ from each other and from academic staff with tenured professorships with respect to structural conditions (fixed-term contracts, research funding) and associated epistemic effects (avoidance of risky research, achievement of independent research profiles). (3) Another subproject explores how higher education institutions deal with the opportunities and challenges posed by tenure-track professorships and what structural effects the implementation of this career path has on the arrangement of normative orders, on processes of evaluation and decision-making.

The subprojects are:

Subproject of Division 1: Academic careers in transition? DZHW professor survey

Subproject of Division 2: Structural characteristics and epistemic effects of academic career positions in the transition to lifetime professorship

Subproject of Division 3: Institutional and organisational effects of the introduction of the tenure-track professorship

Contact persons

Sandra Buchholz
Prof. Dr. Sandra Buchholz +49 511 450670-176
Bernd Kleimann
Prof. Dr. Bernd Kleimann +49 511 450670-363
Torger Möller
Dr. Torger Möller +49 30 2064177-30
Lena Maria Zimmer
Dr. Lena Maria Zimmer +49 511 450670-102
Frauke Peter
Dr. Frauke Peter +49 511 450670-126


Philippe Dittmann Martin Jakobus Koch Carolin Luksche