The Production of Knowledge in Excellent German Research Groups - an Ethnographic Case Study

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 13:22
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Grit PETSCHICK, Tu Berlin, Germany
At present the German university system is undergoing a number of reforms to improve its models of teaching and research. In doing so, the universities are reorganized within the concept of New Public Management to competitive enterprises, which need to cover their funding with an increasing amount of third-party funds. The so increasing competition between universities for research grants leads to a greater focus on quantifiable, scientific output, in particular on the number of already rated publications, prices and grants. The excellent initiative, as one of the most important initiatives in higher education, is aiming to promote top-class universities with additional funding to become internationally visible. This political intervention has generated inequalities within the German research institutions.

How does this kind of project-orientated funding influence research? Which effects does it have for the production of knowledge?

To answer these questions the presented study is based on two ethnographic case studies of two scientific working groups, physicists and chemists. The participatory observation were realized over a period of two years and supplemented by interviews. Participating at the everyday work of young researchers, especially PhD candidates and postdocs, I tried to identify mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion and thereby to understand how the academic field operates.