Wissenschaftskulturen in Deutschland (Research Cultures in Germany)

People (working on the project at the STS Department): Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller, Dr. Aysel Sultan 

The Research Cultures in Germany project investigated how researchers in various fields and disciplines perceive working and living in Germany and what opportunities and challenges they identify for local research cultures in Germany. The aim was to develop a description of the current conditions from which the Foundation could derive ideas for its funding activities and for potential improvements for the future of research cultures in Germany.

Within the context of this project, we understand research cultures as multidimensional: they are composed of epistemic, social, organizational, and societal dimensions. We therefore also speak of research cultures in the plural: while there are frameworks at the societal and organizational level that apply to all research fields in Germany. Moreover, specific research fields have their own epistemic and social practices and norms against which they interpret and negotiate organizational and societal frameworks.

In Germany, working and living conditions with regards to research careers have gained attention in recent years, especially along the protest movements from untenured staff and early career researchers that became a popular debate under the #IchbinHanna and #IchbinReyhan (Bahr et al., 2022). This movement has pointed to precarious employment conditions and accompanying restrictions to quality, creativity, productivity, and also diversity in German research landscape. These protest movements, the evaluation of the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz 2022, or attempts by some universities to establish new forms of employment, especially for postdoctoral researchers, have led to an intensive discussion of the situation of untenured staff. What is largely missing, however, are debates and analyses that take a systemic perspective and, in this sense, look at research cultures in Germany from the perspective of different actors and their interactions. This project aimed to emphasize some of the field-specific differences in sociology, environmental humanities, artificial intelligence and synthetic biology to highlight the interrelation of different human and nonhuman actors (such as institutional structures, legal conditions) in navigating the challenges of everyday research life.

Our findings suggest that some problem areas can be addressed directly through changes in research funding. In many cases, we see the Volkswagen Foundation as an actor that could initiate important discourses in the German science system and thus achieve step-by-step changes together with other actors.


Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH

DHZW (German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies)


Prof. Ruth Müller, Chair of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. Aysel Sultan, Lecturer (RESET)
Tel.: +49(89) 289 29214/ +49(89) 289 29205
Mail: ruth.mueller@tum.de, aysel.sultan@tum.de
Augustenstr. 46, 80333 München
Raum: 355, 352

Michael Ploder, Joanneum Research, Graz/Austria

Jan-Dec 2022

Consortium Project Third-party funded Project

Volkswagen Foundation