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2019 DFG Review Board Election – why it is important

“An opportunity that no-one should miss”: The DFG Review Boards have a decisive influence on the granting of funding. Researchers can vote online for its members until November 18th. Questions and answers

Who are the DFG?

The German research foundation (DFG) is the central self-governing organisation for science in Germany – a science-led institution, which uses state funds for the promotion of research projects and is governed by the law of associations. The members of the registered association DFG are mainly universities, but also other “research centres of general importance”.

What are the DFG Review Boards?

The Review Boards of the German research foundation evaluate project applications on the basis of external reviews. In doing so, they also ensure that uniform standards are maintained in the assessment. Additionally, they advise DFG committees strategically, for example, by means of proposals for optimising funding instruments. More on the tasks

There are 49 Review Boards, which are active on a voluntary basis for a period of four years. Members of the Review Boards must be involved in all review procedures for DFG research projects.

One should start with the perspective of one’s own specialist subject when voting.

Professor Rüdiger Harnisch, former member of the DFG Review Board for Linguistics

Professor Rüdiger Harnisch, holder of the Chair for German Linguistics at the University of Passau, was a member of the DFG Review Board for Linguistics for a total of eight years from 2008 to 2016. “It’s a system based on the ‘checks and balances’ principle: Members of the Review Boards are tasked with evaluating the review process. All members get to see the respective application and the individual assessments for it. A rapporteur is then appointed, who summarises and evaluates the contents of the application and the expert opinions for the Review Board. On this basis, the Review Board then collectively recommends funding it or opposes it.”

Who influences the constitution of review boards?

Election nominations, on the one hand, are made by the official members of the DFG, i.e., higher education institutions, scientific academies, research centres and scientific associations of general importance. On the other hand, prominent individuals are nominated by professional societies, faculty associations and the Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany. The spectrum thus ranges from direct subject-specific interests, represented by the specialist societies empowered to make nominations, to interdisciplinary concerns of organisations that bundle several specialist areas, such as academies and faculty associations, to independent facilities and services such as universities and stakeholders in political science.

Why is the current election important?

The Review Boards are part of the DFG’s self-governing system. “Their members must repeatedly prove that they can act in a responsible manner – in favour of overarching scientific policy considerations, but also against them if necessary,” explained Professor Harnisch.

A high voter turnout is important especially because the Review Boards have such a responsibility: “The more people participate, the fairer the result,” said the linguist. Furthermore: “One should start with the perspective of one’s own specialist subject when voting. Among other things, it is the voters who decide whether the whole spectrum of their discipline will be represented in the Review Board.”

An opportunity that no-one should miss.

DFG Academic Adviser Professor Carolin Häussler

In addition to the Research Services Department, economist Professor Carolin Häussler, as a DFG academic adviser, is the contact person on site for first-time applicants and represents the University of Passau in questions of doubt and conflicts against the DFG. “The importance of DFG funding for the progress of research activities at universities is enormous,” said the holder of the Chair of Business Administration with a focus on Organisation, Technology Management and Entrepreneurship. In 2018, the DFG funded approximately 33,200 projects with a total annual grant of 3.4 billion euros, of which almost 2.4 million euros went to the University of Passau.

For the election, Professor Häussler stated: “By voting, every scientist at the University of Passau can influence the constitution of the DFG Review Boards. This is an opportunity that no-one should miss.”

Who's up for election?

The 2019 list of candidates comprises 1681 scientists from all over Germany. There are 632 members to be selected in 49 Review Boards, which are responsible for a total of 211 subjects.

Up for election from the University of Passau:

DFG academic adviser Prof. Dr. Häussler added: “I am delighted that we have such outstanding scientists on the list of candidates. Their election to the Review Boards would certainly be a great enrichment for the University of Passau.”
The candidates can be elected regardless of their field of specialisation – see also question “How to vote?”.

Who can vote?

The 150,000 scientists who are currently eligible to vote include:

  • Researchers who have successfully passed their doctoral defence before the first day of the election period, and
  • and professors (including assistant professors),

if they are carrying out scientific research on the first day of the election period that is not limited to this day.

In addition, they must be affiliated with an election office. The University of Passau has established one: Dr. Kerstin Theis, responsible for the election office in the German Research Programmes Section in the Research Services Department at the University of Passau, is responsible for this.

More information

How to vote?

The election will take place online from 2:00 pm on 21 October to 2:00 pm 18 November.

Each person entitled to vote shall have six votes. They may give one or more candidates up to three votes. The votes can be divided among candidates from different Review Boards.
The personal access data will be delivered by post to scientists entitled to vote in good time before the election. The respective election office registers the persons entitled to vote and forwards the election documents.

If you have any questions, please contact Kerstin Theis, Head of the German Research Programmes Section in the Research Services Department at the University of Passau.

All Information on the 2019 DFG Review Board Election