Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Science Studies

Evaluation in crisis?

Exploration of a systemic approach for the study of science

Senior Researchers: Dr. Cornelia Schendzielorz, Prof. Dr. Martin Reinhart

Running: 2017-2019


Internal and external regulation of scientific work considerably relies on evaluation procedures in which experts assess the quality of scientific research. The peer review system, the central mechanism of quality assurance of scientific work, is highly controversial. Complaints regarding work overload and corruption of the system as well as doubts concerning its effective operation, its proper functioning and its reliability are omnipresent in the discourse. Reproaches against peer review have been particularism, conservatism, proneness to error and inefficiency. Nonetheless, peer review procedures remain the commonly accepted gold standard to judge scientific quality.

This project addresses the diversity of evaluation and reviewing procedures that mark the research system on various levels and focusses on their challenges as well as their dilemmas. On the basis of empiric case studies we conduct a praxeological analysis of evaluation practices in order to seize the conception as well as execution of their particular procedural steps. Crucial references are the broad research on peer review within science studies and the emerging current works in the Sociology of valuation. Furthermore, we follow up the various case studies carried out by the DZHW and the iFQ, concerning the evaluation of journal publications, of individual or collaborative grants as well as reviewing and assessment in the course of doctoral examination procedures and appointment procedures for professorships. The project hereby integrates into the research cluster “Evaluation Practices in Science and Higher Education” at the DZHW.

The project's objective is to systematically analyze the variety of peer review procedures in science in order to identify parameters for a differentiation and a typology of evaluation procedures. In a comparative analysis the study focuses on the relation between different evaluation procedures in order to fathom systematic connections between different procedural steps and alignments of valuation elements, which are crucial for a proper functioning of the scientific peer review system.


→ further information can be found on the DZHW website