Mission and Constitution of the DFG since 1920

Development of the Statutes and the Peer Review System

The principle of self-government and self-organisation of science and research formed the core of the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft founded in 1920. The statutes adopted at the constituent assembly held in Berlin on 30 October 1920, made up of just 12 articles, described the purpose of the association as follows: "To avert from German scientific research the danger of complete collapse arising from the present economic crisis". (Article 1) In view of the post-First World War economic desolation, Fritz Haber, founding father, and Friedrich Schmidt-Ott, the first president of the Notgemeinschaft, pointed the way forward by adding: "The Notgemeinschaft (…) aims to use the funds it receives from public and private sources in the overall interest of German research in the most productive manner and to use the expertise and experience represented in it to preserve the vital basis of German science and research". (Article 1)

Current DFG Statutes

On 2 August 1951, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), the central self-governing organisation of German science and research, adopted its statutes which have remained in force up until the present day. The foundation is commissioned with promoting science and research in all its branches. It supports and coordinates research projects in all scientific disciplines - from archaeology to zoology. In fulfilling this mission, its particular attention focuses on advancing young researchers. In addition, the DFG advises parliaments and public authorities on questions of science and research, and fosters research contacts with international science and with the private sector. The DFG has always been an association under private law. Its members were and are the research universities, the academies of sciences and humanities, research institutes of general scientific significance, the Max Planck Society and the Fraunhofer Society, as well as a number of science and research organisations.

Development of a Peer Review System

Many of the statutory bodies of the German Research Foundation, such as the General Assembly, Executive Committee and Joint Committee as well as the review committees, existed in the foundation's predecessor organisation, the Notgemeinschaft. They were and still are a characteristic feature of scientific self-governance. Indeed, peer reviewers have always been the mainstay of the standardised peer review system relied upon by the Notgemeinschaft/DFG and established to guarantee scientific autonomy and scientific quality.

Reform of the Peer Review System

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft has introduced Review Boards, as the successors to Review Committees, by means of a change to its statutes in July 2002. These are intended to ensure that the review process is conducted purely according to scientific criteria for all funding programmes and that the same quality standards apply for all processes. The members of the Review Boards are selected by scientists and academics working at the DFG’s member institutions and at other scientific institutions.