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Evaluation of the Sino-German Center for the Advancement of Science

The Sino-German Center for the Advancement of Science was jointly opened in October 2000 by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NFSC) with the task of intensifying Chinese-German scientific cooperation. Scientific relations and cooperation between China and Germany have a long tradition; however, under conditions of rapid change, tradition is no guarantee for a sustainable and growing cooperation between the two countries.
In mid-2005, the Center was evaluated by a German-Chinese expert group. The iFQ coordinated the German part of the evaluation. Apart from assessing the achievement of the objectives and the impact of the center’s activities, the basic research question addressed was whether the originally developed support- and information instruments still are appropriate and will remain so in the context of changing conditions.
Results of the evaluation show that, beginning from a comparably low quantity, research output in China has more than tripled over the past ten years. German research output, on the other hand, stagnated on a comparatively high level. In China, clear emphasis was placed on fewer research themes, whereas German research covered a wider area. In Germany, quality assurance processes and (on the whole critically reflected on) Peer Review are a matter of course. In China, the question arises to what extent the Peer Review process is compatible with Chinese tradition and culture. For this reason, further objectives of the project were to introduce the Chinese partners to the Evaluation Process, to test questionnaires for their applicability and to evaluate whether traditional Chinese courtesy rules would require modifications to evaluation instruments and processes. Moreover, the evaluation of the Sino-German Center also aimed at identifying consequences of developmental trends in the international research landscape for the future direction and thematic focus of the Center.
For the evaluation, based on a questionnaire developed by the iFQ, the Center created a Self-Report about its accomplishments. An online survey of financially-supported symposia participants and project coordinators was carried out. In addition, group interviews with the officers and employees of the center were performed, site visits to center-funded institutions in China and Germany conducted, and a bibliometric analysis of financially supported projects was undertaken.
The Evaluation Commission gave a generally positive assessment of the Center’s work. At the same time, it was pointed out that instruments that will be used in the future should be adjusted to the changing conditions of cooperational research. Suggestions were given on how to improve and strengthen the instruments. Evaluation results were intensively discussed in the Center as well as the DFG board, settling itself as focal points in the re-orientation of the focus and profile of the Center.

Duration: 2005 – 2007
Co-operation partner: Beijing Institute of Technology
Funding: DFG
Contact person: Prof. Dr. Stefan Hornbostel
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