The Strategic Evaluation of the Research Field and their Research Programs

Helmholtz’s research is regularly evaluated by high-ranking international experts. This evaluation takes place in two steps. In the first step, the scientific evaluation, the panels assess the scientific performance of the research. This review took place between October 2017 and April 2018. Around 600 international experts from 27 countries were involved.

The strategic evaluation, which will take place between September 2019 and February 2020, aims to review the strategic plans of the research field and to propose a basis for the distribution of funding among the programs. Here, too, a high-caliber panel of international recognized experts assess the proposed programs and cross-program activities. The results of the scientific review and the strategic guidelines drawn up in dialogue with the funding bodies - i.e., the Federal Government and the states (Bundesländer) - are incorporated into the review process. For this reason, the chairpersons from the scientific evaluations are part of the review panel. The reviewers check whether the research programs are set up correctly and draw up recommendations for the new or realigned Helmholtz programs. These results will be discussed in the Helmholtz Senate. The Senate is made up of external personalities from politics and science. The Helmholtz President chairs the board. The Senate finally adopts funding recommendations on the individual research programs in the coming years.

In the strategic evaluation, the panels review the objectives of the programs with the following questions:

  1. Goals: Are the objectives of the research programs in line with international developments in the respective thematic area? Do they address societal and scientific challenges? Do they fit in with the Helmholtz Mission?
  2. Work Program: Is the program structured in such a way that the objectives are achievable – while leaving room for flexibility? Are the scientific approaches original and the collaborations appropriate and profitable? Are the results of the scientific evaluation taken into account?
  3. Competences and Resources: Are the competences and related resources of the program and its researchers appropriate? Does this give the program the potential for international leadership and groundbreaking research?
  4. Impact and Risks: Will the program have the intended impact in this research field? Could it even be the core for completely new fields of research? Where are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks?

In addition, the experts make specific recommendations for the further development of the research field and its programs and it evaluate the user facilities that Helmholtz offers to researchers from all over the world.

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