Press Release No. 43 | 5 July 2007
New Elections for "Parliament of Science"
Members of the DFG's Review Boards elected via Internet ballot by more than 90,000 researchers
They are the democratically authorised representatives of the scientific community to Germany's largest research funding organisation, they spend a considerable amount of their time serving others voluntarily, they play a key role in allocating hundreds of millions of euros in funding each year: It is hard to overestimate the importance of the Review Boards within the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation).
Introduced four years ago, this is the first time that the Review Boards have stood for re-election. Between 5 November and 3 December 2007, an estimated 90,000 scientists and researchers from throughout Germany will have the opportunity to decide on who will sit on the 594 seats of the DFG's Review Boards. The final OK was given for the election to take place by the DFG's Senate, which approved the list of candidates during a session at the DFG's General Assembly in Bonn. The slate of candidates consists of 1371 scientists and researchers. Two hundred and thirty five of the candidates are women, accounting for 17.1% of the total, an increase of almost seven percent over the first Review Board elections, held in 2003.
"The Review Boards are like the Parliament of Science", emphasised DFG President professor Matthias Kleiner. They have led to even further improvement in the quality of the peer reviews and funding decisions made by the DFG. This was precisely the intention when the funding organisation reformed its peer review system in 2003. Whereas it was previously the elected members of the Review Committees who were responsible for the peer review process, this process now takes place without the involvement of the Review Boards as a general rule. The reviewers for the Individual Grants Programme are now all unelected scientists working on a voluntary basis, who are distinguished in the field of the proposal by their scientific expertise and ability. In a second stage of the process, their reviews are then assessed by the elected members of the Review Boards, providing quality assurance. This assessment then forms the basis of the decision to approve funding or reject the funding proposal, which is taken by the DFG's Joint Committee. In the coordinated funding programmes, one of the members of each Review Board also sits on the review panel. "This enables them to maintain the same evaluation criteria and ensures greater transparency of the review process", explains Kleiner. The democratically authorised subject representatives also bolster the principle of self governance of the scientific community, he said.
Scientists and researchers from any discipline who hold a doctorate, are working at a research institution and have been accepted by the DFG Senate for inclusion in the list of candidates can stand as candidates for the 48 Review Boards - ranging from A for ancient history to Z for zoology. In addition to outstanding expertise in their own fields of specialisation, the candidates should also have a sound footing in related subjects. The members of the Review Boards are elected by all scientists and researchers who are conducting research or scientific work at any of the DFG's 92 member institutions or at any other institution recognised as eligible to vote by the DFG Senate as well as scientists and researchers who have been granted a personal right to vote. Furthermore, they must have held their doctorate for at least one year on the date of the election.
The forthcoming election is not only of great significance from an academic point of view, however. The DFG is also breaking new ground technically, as it will be an online ballot. The anticipated 90,000 or more eligible voters will be able to vote for the 1,371 candidates from any computer in the world with Internet access, without the need for special software. The DFG's Review Board election is thus expected to rank amongst the largest and most technically challenging online ballots that has taken place in Germany to date.
For further details on the Review Board election and the Review Boards' work please visit
Contacts at the DFG Head Office:
- Christiane Burgbacher, Tel.: +49 (0) 228-8852421, e-mail: Christiane.Burgbacher@dfg.de
- Dr. Susanne Knoop, Tel.: +49 (0) 228-8852747, e-mail: Susanne.Knoop@dfg.de