Feasibility of an international benchmarking for selected PFI indicators and organisation of an international impact conference


The Pact for Research and Innovation (PFI) offers financial planning security to the German Research Foundation (DFG) as the funding organisation and to the non-university research organisations Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Fraunhofer), Helmholtz Association (HGF), Max Planck Society (MPG) and Leibniz Association (WGL) through agreed annual increases in basic funding. In return, the Pact partners have committed themselves to common research policy goals. In the current phase up to the year 2030, these include strengthening the transfer to industry and society and increasing national and international networking and cooperation, for example.

As part of the reporting on the Pact for Research and Innovation, the non-university research organisations are evaluated and observed by means of self-reporting and based on selected indicators (monitoring). In the future, an international benchmarking shall allow an extended monitoring. This part of the project is concerned with examining the feasibility of such international benchmarkings.

Impact of Science

The science system in Germany is one of the best in the world. It produces knowledge, uses it to build up further knowledge and puts it into practice. Research at universities and non-university research institutions is at a high level of quality and productivity compared to the rest of the world. In addition to the direct generation of knowledge and the qualification of future employees, science institutions and universities are increasingly being asked to fulfil further tasks and missions. In addition to scientific goals, there are, for example, expectations regarding contributions to the achievement of politically set, economic or social goals. These range from the transfer of application-oriented knowledge to the economy to increase the competitiveness of the national economy as a whole (third mission), to the fulfilment of ambitious social goals such as combating widespread diseases or achieving sustainability goals (mission orientation of research and innovation policy). All these demands are increasingly being made explicit in political and strategic targets and are being called for politically and socially. In addition, the contribution of science to overall success and to the targeted use of taxpayers' money must increasingly be explicitly legitimised. This is accompanied by the question of the impact (of science or science systems) along these new requirements and dimensions.

This second part of the project is concerned with a review of the international conceptual and empirical literature, its transfer to the German context and the development of political starting points in exchange with various actors from science and politics.

The objective of the first part of the project is to determine the feasibility of an international benchmarking to classify the performance and dynamics of the Pact partners on the basis of existing and, if necessary, newly developed indicators. If necessary, new indicators will be developed.

The aim of the second part of the project is to discuss the current national and international theoretical-conceptual and empirical state of affairs and to draw conclusions for the BMBF's further handling of this topic.

Literature analyses, bibliometric, technometric and other indicators relevant to science policy are produced. Scientific lectures and their discussion as well as work in focus groups complement the spectrum of methods on the qualitative side.

In addition to assessing the feasibility of international benchmarking, the expected results include the collection and presentation of a series of quantitative indicators in international comparison.

With regard to the impact of science, in addition to a review of the international state of science policy and the initiation of a corresponding discussion in Germany, a series of recommendations for action in science policy can also be expected.


07/2020 – 02/2021


Federal Ministry of Education and Research


Conference on the Impact of Science

Online-Event / May 11, 2021

This is the first out of two conferences on the (societal) impact of science. The discussion at the international level, especially at the EU-level, was much more vibrant in the past decade than in Germany. This first conference therefore aims at picking up this discussion and to benefit from academic as well as practical experiences at the international level as well as to start a vivid national discussion and conceptualisation in Germany.

In order to be able to measure and evaluate the impact of science, even on a systemic level, new theoretical and empirical approaches have to be developed. If science and innovation policy also intends to design political interventions that increase the impact, then a perspective that differs from the previous one must be adopted. At the same time it is essential to expand the conceptual and methodological basis for understanding and measuring impact of the science system. The relevant actors in the German science system in general and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in particular, should aim to establish a basis for how the science system and its contributions must and can be understood and evaluated in the light of global challenges and increasing request to fulfil the "new social contract for research". Recourse to old concepts and metrics, as important as they remain in detail, is no longer sufficient.

The conference aims to discuss the most recent national and international conceptual as well as empirical state of affairs and to draw conclusions for the BMBF's further handling of the topic how the impact of science can be reasonably understood, measured and evaluated.