Key Indicators for Publicly Funded
Research in Germany
Select a federal state and then a research institution:
The presidents of the DFG and the German Rectors' Conference explain why the analyses and conclusions in the Funding Atlas 2015 are important not just to individual research institutions, but to German research policy as a whole.
The Funding Atlas 2015 is the latest in a series of detailed reports on key figures relating to publicly funded research in Germany published by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). This edition is the seventh in the series, which began in 1996. While the first edition concentrated solely on indicators of the participation of higher education institutions (HEIs) in DFG funding programmes, since then the spectrum of indicators has been considerably enlarged and further developed in its focus.
The Funding Atlas is no longer primarily concerned with the success of individual HEIs in obtaining third-party funding (as suggested by the term 'Funding Ranking', which was used for some time). Additionally, more emphasis is given to the question of whether and how statistically sound conclusions can be drawn with regard to the focal areas – individual subject areas and research fields – of HEIs and non-university research institutions and 'research regions', on the basis of a broad set of key indicators. Conclusions of this type are very valuable both to research institutions themselves and for the purposes of planning and decision-making by the policymakers responsible for the basic framework in which research is carried out. They also respond to a rising demand for information from the media and the general public, which is associated with the growing importance of research in our society.
In this year's Funding Atlas, data from public providers of third-party funding have been consulted and evaluated to obtain the key indicators. This is because they provide particularly useful information. Third-party funding is applied for in a competitive process and awarded on the basis of peer appraisal by acknowledged experts in the relevant field. If an institution obtains a greater amount of third-party funding in a certain area or attracts visiting researchers financed through corresponding programmes, this is associated with a quality assessment by these peers.
The usefulness of the key indicators also benefits from the depth of the underlying data. The funding institutions which participated in the Funding Atlas provide systematic information about their activities – either categorised by the subject areas that benefit from the various funding instruments (in the case of the DFG, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service) or by thematically organised funding areas for which funds are allocated (in the case of the German federal government and the EU). In the Funding Atlas, each of these sources is separately evaluated to allow the findings obtained to be compared. The result is a complex picture which offers scope for comprehensive profiles but also reveals how individual institutions and individual regions benefit from different funding providers.
The Funding Atlas series also focuses on specific topics; in the last edition in 2012, for example, it provided statistics on gender equality in research. The focal topic of the Funding Atlas 2015 is the Excellence Initiative sponsored by the German federal and state governments. The report therefore also contributes to an interim evaluation of what is a crucial programme for German research.
The contribution made by funding programmes to the successful profiling of research institutions is often emphasised in the context of the Excellence Initiative. Conversely, however, attention is occasionally drawn to the dangers, for instance for small universities or small subject areas, both of which – it is feared – are at risk of being marginalised. Two findings presented in this Funding Atlas, which relate to the DFG's general funding activities, deserve consideration in this regard.
The contribution of the Excellence Initiative to the further profiling of very active working groups at (mostly) larger universities is not therefore resulting in a growing unequal distribution of funding, at least with respect to the DFG, either at university or at subject level.
On the contrary, today more universities and more subjects are benefiting from the DFG funding available through this and other programmes.
Findings like these demonstrate how useful the facts presented in this report are for objective debate on what are often otherwise only surmised trends, and they make a detailed and attentive reading of the Funding Atlas a worthwhile exercise. We would like to thank all those individuals who have contributed to this work in many different ways.
|Professor Dr. Peter Strohschneider||Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Horst Hippler|
|President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft||President of the German Rectors’ Conference|