Information for Researchers, No. 61 | September 1, 2022

Package of Measures to Support a Shift in the Culture of Research Assessment

DFG changes proposal forms and introduces mandatory CV template / The aim is to support a shift in the culture of research assessment / Improvement of equal opportunity practices

DFG changes proposal forms and introduces mandatory CV template / The aim is to support a shift in the culture of research assessment / Improvement of equal opportunity practices

Successful science and research require suitable framework conditions. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) ensures these conditions by regularly conducting analyses, providing the relevant information and adapting its procedures accordingly. The DFG set out the challenges and fields of action in a position paper on academic publishing published in May of this year: it sees both the academic community as a whole and itself as a funding organisation as being responsible for initiating a cultural shift towards research assessment that is geared more towards equal opportunity and attaches even greater importance to the substance of research. In the interests of bringing about such a shift, it is up to research funding organisations to broaden the spectrum of accepted publication formats, to attach greater value to content-based evidence of achievement and to strengthen the recipient side of publishing. The DFG has launched a comprehensive and far-reaching package of measures in order to fulfil this mandate.

Binding CV template across all funding programmes

For this reason, the assessment of a researcher’s accomplishments must be holistic and based on substantive qualitative criteria. In order to strengthen qualitative evaluation criteria over quantitative indicators, the DFG will be introducing a curriculum vitae template that will be mandatory across all programmes from 1 March 2023 (the template will be adapted shortly for proposals under the Collaborative Research Centre and Research Training Group programmes; information will be provided separately in this regard). The template adopted by the DFG Senate allows applicants to provide both narrative and tabular information, thereby facilitating a holistic view of the applicant’s academic career in the review and evaluation process.

In addition to the mandatory information required in order to assess eligibility, applicants may also provide details of special circumstances or additional services to scholarship such as committee activities or the establishment of research infrastructures. As such, the template provides the basis for a qualitatively sound assessment of academic performance that takes greater account of the respective stage of the individual’s life and career. Accordingly, reviewers are now instructed to consider applicants’ academic performance in the context of their individual curriculum vitae and career stage.

Publication details in proposals and CVs

Performance assessment based on content-related qualitative criteria also explicitly includes ensuring that the entire spectrum of academic publication types are equally displayed and acknowledged in funding proposals and CVs. In addition to a maximum of ten publications in the more common publication formats, the CV can therefore now list up to ten further sets of research outcomes and findings that have been publicised in a variety of other ways, including articles on preprint servers, data sets or software packages, for example. In DFG proposals, the project-specific list of publications will be included in the general bibliography. The intention here is to shift the focus of the review and the evaluation of a proposal away from the list of publications and towards the substance of the applicant’s accomplishments. In order to document their own published preliminary work, applicants can typographically highlight (e.g. in bold) a maximum of ten of their own publications in the bibliography that are important for the project. No information on quantitative metrics such as impact factors and h-indices is required in the CV or the proposal, and such information is not to be considered in the review. The relevant details are included in DFG forms and review instructions.

These modifications and innovations reflect the fact that the DFG is continuing to promote the cultural shift in research assessment that was advocated in May with the publication of the position paper on academic publishing. The DFG hopes that this refocus – away from quantitative indicators and towards the substance of scholarship – will lead to improved equality of opportunity and a higher-quality basis for review overall.

Further Information

Information on academic publishing as a foundation and area of leverage for the assessment of scholarship:

DFG template for the curriculum vitae (DFG form 53.200):

FAQ on CVs:

Contact at the DFG: