DFG wants less but better papers

Recently, Prof. Dr.-ing. Matthias Kleiner, president of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG), gave a speach with the intention of changing the way we think about papers (PDF of the speach (German)). From July scientists who apply for money from the DFG must not name more than 5 publications in their application form. While this at first sight might appear to be just a minor change of the way the application has to be written, Prof. Kleiner and the DFG senate want to encourage scientists with this change to write less but better papers. They recognize that papers are the “gold standard” and a “currency” in the scientific community but also say that due to the increasing importance of various statistical factors (Hirsch-factor, Impact-factor, …) the pressure on scientists to publish highly cited papers is immense. This, so the DFG scientists, is bad for scientists and in some cases leads to scientists publishing false results just to have more papers published.

By adding these new rules for DFG applications, they want to break this trend and put more importance in high quality papers.

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3 Responses to DFG wants less but better papers

  1. Splash says:

    These are great news! I think that the run to maximize the number of papers regardless of the quality is really bad for science.

  2. Eve says:

    This is a bad news for those conducting taxonomic research. The quality of a taxonomic paper may be of a significant importance to contribute in recognising biodiversity, but there is only little hope for taxonomic papers to get high impact factors. Does DFG ever recognise taxonomy as a field in biology that is worth of funding?

    • Leonard says:

      Eve, Thanks for your comment. Can you please specify why exactly fewer papers would hurt the field of taxonomy? In my field, astronomy, many areas start off with one paper per discovered object (e.g. an exoplanet). Once several have been found (there are >500 exoplanets to date), it gets harder to publish single detections.

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