FAQ: Publishing

Metrics have never been an integral part of the DFG’s proposal assessment process. The DFG seeks to highlight how metrics can impact on the science system and in what context they lack any informative value. The assessment of a researcher’s achievements must be carried out in its entirety and based on substantive qualitative criteria. Information on quantitative metrics such as impact factors and h-indices is not required for this purpose.

Bibliometric indicators can only be used to compare academic accomplishments within a very narrow disciplinary framework, since publication cultures differ greatly between disciplines.

Guideline 5 of the DFG’s "Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice” stipulates that the evaluation of academic performance should primarily be based on qualitative standards. Quantitative indicators, if used at all, should only be included in the overall assessment in a differentiated and carefully deliberated manner.

The DFG ratified DORA in 2021 since its position is in line with the goals of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

The number of an applicant’s own publications to be highlighted in the list of project- and topic-related publications included in a funding proposal is limited to ten.

The paper understands a publication to be any way in which scientific findings, data and metadata, software and patents are made available to others. Publications can be printed, digital or hybrid. They can appear in various media such as books, journals, repositories or websites and can have differing formats. These include monographs, journal articles, articles on preprint servers, contributions to anthologies and conference proceedings, data or metadata sets, software codes and programmes, clinical trial protocols, podcasts, blog contributions and press articles.

No. For research findings generated by DFG-funded projects, the current DFG guidelines on the use of funds (DFG form 2.00 – 01/22) include the request to “publish ... project results in open access for the purpose of communication in a way which is adequate for scientific purposes” (section 13.2), either as a first publication or promptly as a second publication in suitable repositories. There is no obligation to do this, however.

The contribution towards “project-related publication expenses” of up to €750 per year available in connection with individual funding can be used for freely chosen forms of publication (DFG form 52.01 – 06/20, section 2.6).

The funding programme “Open Access Publishing Funding” provides additional subsidies for articles or books published in open access. Under this programme, however, applications are only accepted from institutions, not individual researchers.

Yes. The DFG supports OA publishing per se, regardless of the type of publisher or publication infrastructure. The DFG is keen to promote a well-functioning market for publication services and bases its funding on the costs incurred for quality-assured publication. The DFG is critical of public funds being diverted from the science system to profit-oriented corporations due to excessive prices for literature supply and publications. Scientific publishing, especially the publication of journal articles, is dominated by a small number of publishing groups, and in recent years there has been an increase in the subscription costs and profit margins among the leading publishers. In addition, the major scholarly publishers are expanding their business into the area of data analysis and research information systems, which means that researchers are at risk of becoming increasingly dependent on the services of a limited number of providers.

The DFG advocates that researchers retain or regain sovereignty over what is published so that publicly funded research remains a public asset. Funding of publications by the DFG (cf. also “Will the DFG now only fund publications in open access?”) remains unrestricted with regard to the type of publisher.

The DFG has already implemented the following measures:

  1. In order to prioritise quality over quantity, the number of project-specific publications to be mentioned in funding proposals has been limited.
  2. The DFG also promotes and supports the development of services dedicated to subject-specific research and the availability of academic information (specialised information services) as well as the interdisciplinary development of infrastructures (publication, research data, software) in accordance with scholarly standards.
  3. Greater importance is now attached to information on the handling of research data as an important part of the work programme; this is now a mandatory component of funding proposals. Furthermore, the DFG encourages applicants to list research data publications in their CV.

In accordance with its positioning, the DFG made changes to its CV models, reviewer instructions and instructions for publication lists in September 2022. The aim is to bring other aspects of scientific activity to bear in CVs in order to convey clearly to reviewers that metrics only have a subordinate role to play and that publications can be listed and assessed in various categories. For further details of these changes, see FAQs on the compilation of publication lists (in German only).