A Discipline Refuses: Rating Academic Research Performance in Germany

in German Politics and Society
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The ability to conduct academic research is partly a function of the time

available for it, especially relative to teaching and administrative obligations.

1 For the last decade, both the number of students enrolled at German

universities and the number of full-time professors has remained at

about the same level. The number of wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter, doctorallevel

research assistants, however, has increased by more than half, and

the number of Lehrbeauftragte, those on temporary teaching contracts, has

increased by three-quarters. There is thus no lack of personnel to help

professors meet teaching or administrative obligations, or to assist on

research projects.2 Nevertheless, and particularly in the humanities, German

professors complain about their teaching burdens, about added

administrative tasks their universities place upon them,3 and about what

they see as new pressures to bring in funding or produce results.4 That the

Historikertag, the biannual meeting of German historians, had “Boundaries”

(2010) and “Resources—Conflicts” (2012) as the overarching themes

for its last two meetings seems in keeping with this sentiment.