Profile area Understanding Research – Evaluation and Science Practice

Hand hält Bücherstapel in die Höhe

With this profile area, the Foundation aims to promote research on science and provide targeted impulses for the structural improvement of research as well as academic teaching. To this end, it focuses on three thematic areas: namely, science cultures, science careers and science discourses. The aim is to evaluate, initiate and facilitate necessary changes in important areas of the science system. Points of reference here are, for example, standards of research and ethics, review procedures, evaluation and publications, career and governance.

The profile area "Understanding Research" aims to

  • promote the generation of knowledge about science as well as the evaluation, communication and strategic application of the findings;
  • open up scope for scientists and scholars to engage in original research at crucial junctures in their careers;
  • support the careers of researchers via joint cooperation in and with other social systems and through qualification at the interfaces;
  • strengthen academic freedom in teaching and research and promote constructive public discourse on the topic;
  • create experimental spaces for improving the structural parameters of research, teaching and transfer.


Perspectives on Research

The Foundation aims to strengthen research on research in Germany in order to support the creation, reflection and strategic application of knowledge about the realm of science and thus positively influence the future research system.

To effectively address current challenges, it is increasingly relevant for the various stakeholders in the research system to better understand the effects and impact of their actions and to be in a position to make evidence-based decisions, for example, on the design of career pathways, allocation of funds and evaluation processes.

With targeted funding schemes and activities, the Volkswagen Foundation aims to contribute to and significantly expand existing knowledge on the research system. It also wants to share relevant findings with other stakeholders. Here the intention is to jointly and positively influence the structural conditions of research and knowledge production. In this context, the Foundation conceives itself in the dual role of both a funder as well as an actor within the research system. It seeks to design funding opportunities to support collaborative and internationally oriented research projects and to encourage experimentation with the various methods relevant for research on research. At the same time, the Foundation feels a responsibility to initiate stakeholder dialog to discuss findings and insights and – if promising – to support further activities or pilot projects. 

Illustration mit Portraits zweier Frauen

Promoting scientific research – initiating change (Interview in German)

Antje Tepperwien and Johanna Brumberg explain how the foundation wants to contribute to improving the framework conditions for research and higher education.

Interview (in German)

Current funding offers within the profile area

  • Application possible at any time

    Lichtenberg Endowed Professorships

    The "Lichtenberg Endowed Professorships" are aimed at outstanding academics conducting research in innovative and interdisciplinary fields.

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    • all subject areas
    • funding for: professorship
  • April 27, 2023, 10:00 PM CET | Online Q&A: 08. and 15.02.2023

    Momentum – Funding for Recently Tenured Professors

    The funding offer is aimed at professors three to five years after taking up their first tenured professorship at a university in Germany.

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    • area of research: all disciplines
    • type of funding: concepts for the broadening of perspectives
  • February 01, 2023, 11:59 PM CET

    Opus Magnum

    The funding offer is aimed at outstanding professors from the humanities and social sciences.

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    • area of research: humanities, cultural studies and social sciences
    • type of funding: funding of a substitute professorship
  • March 31, 2023, 10:00 PM CET

    Pioneer Projects – Impetus for the German Research System

    The funding offer addresses active researchers who, in addition to their research activities, would like to explore a project idea for the further development (of a specific area) of the German research system, as well as academic administrators at universities and research institutions in Germany.

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    • area of research: all disciplines
    • up to 500,000 Euro
  • February 15, 2023, 10:00 PM CET

    Researching Research: Collaborative Research Projects

    The funding scheme is aimed at scientists and scholars of all career stages from postdoc onwards who work on issues related to research on research. The Foundation promotes interdisciplinary, multi-method and internationally oriented research projects.

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    • area of research: disciplines conducting research on research
    • type of funding: research projects adressing the topic of the current call "Systems of Assessment and Evaluation in Science"
  • May 03, 2023, 10:00 PM CET

    Researching Research: Summer Schools & Workshops

    The program addresses scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds working on questions or topics relating to research on research.

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    • area of research: disciplines conducting research on research
    • type of funding: summer schools and workshops