Competition is a key element in science and research, both for researchers and for their institutions. Recent years have seen competition in Europe, and especially in Germany, take on new forms and a new quality; in particular, in connection with the establishment of the European Research Area. This is why recent times have seen ranking lists experience a boom in Germany. Ever more and new attempts to rank excellence are coming onto the market all the time.
The DFG (German Research Foundation) Funding Ranking shows the distribution of the DFG's financial resources to institutions in which research is performed, differentiated by research areas. This indicator of research activity and its quality is certainly justified, because the financial resources of the DFG are only awarded to scientists and academics who, with their projects, engage in the ever more intensive competition between the best ideas and, in some programmes, additionally between the best structures of research by and training for young scientists and researchers. Furthermore, the report also considers new and enlightening aspects of research activity – internationality, networking and the international response to scientific publications – in its analysis.
The Humboldt Ranking evaluates how attractive Germany's higher education institutions are for top-flight international researchers based on data collected by the Humboldt Foundation. For 50 years now, the Humboldt Foundation has been awarding its Research Fellowships and Research Prizes exclusively to the best applicants from around the world. These awards enable them to complete a research stay at an academic or research institution of their choice. This choice also serves as a kind of quality seal for universities selected by international researchers. Because Humboldt alumni are researchers who are free to choose their cooperation partners from among the world's leading institutions.
The CHE Research Ranking aims to identify the research-active faculties in Germany. Based on publication output, third-party research funding, number of doctorates and the number of patent applications in engineering subjects, this ranking shows one group of research-active faculties per subject in which, in their respective fields, they rank in the lead group in several of the specified categories. Even though the factors used here appear to be the same for all subjects, the ranking uses subject-specific methods – always based on consultation with representatives of the subject in question.
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