Scientific practice

Field of action

Science has ever since been characterized by the fact that re- search results are always generally available, the search for findings is conducted on an open-ended basis and any result must be critically reviewed. These fundamental principles are not called into question by digital technology. Rather digital technology can support the process of obtaining scientific insights, its transparency and the general availability of scientific findings to a degree that was previously not possible. However, this is not happening to the extent that would be possible or even desirable. There are elements of present scientific practice that conflict with this aim. For example, the dominant reputation mechanisms (e.g. of indicators and metrics) act to stabilise the subscription-based publication system, thereby making the transformation to a system based on Open Access harder to achieve. The almost exclusively publication-based reputation system also provides no incentive for scientists to actively drive the establishment of novel services specific to their discipline, such as developing community-based review mechanisms using digital technology or promoting publication formats where the replicability of research results is inherent in the process.
The effects of scientific practice on the relationship between science and society must also be examined in this field of action. Reflecting on and questioning scientific practice on our own initiative — e.g. whether existing technical opportunities are being exhausted with respect to major scientific principles such as communicating results to the outside world, their susceptibility to critical review or even the dominant mechanisms affecting careers — this is a sign of science’s ability to reflect on itself, handle criticism and take action.

Priorities 2018 – 2022

The contribution made by the Alliance Initiative to the subject of scientific practice can consist in identifying from the perspective of the information infrastructures how the potential of digitization can be used for the benefit of these fundamental scientific principles. And vice versa: to identify the causal relationships currently making it harder to exploit such potential, or preventing it altogether. As a result, scientific disciplines are to be supported in reflecting on certain aspects of scientific practice linked to digitization and actively helping to shape them. For example, this relates to questions regarding the system of indicators: What indicators are suitable for mapping scientific performance? What aspects of performance are to be considered? It relates to questions regarding the transparency of data and information: What is the attitude of the various disciplines towards the transparency of data, software and publications? What information infrastructures are necessary from the perspective of the disciplines? And it relates to questions regarding undesirable developments: What undesirable effects are caused by digitization, and how can they be counteracted? The Alliance Initiative cannot take the lead in organizing these discussions, as they belong instead to the genuine area of responsibility of the scientific disciplines. The Alliance Initiative can identify the supportive function of information infrastructures, as well as the positive and negative potential affecting scientific practice as a result of the digitization of science.

Working group


  • Chairperson:
  • Johannes Fournier
    Gabriele Gramelsberger

NameNominated by
Johannes FournierGerman Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
Sascha FriesikeGerman Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
Gabriele GramelsbergerGerman Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
Peer TrilckeGerman Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
Julia RoederFraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Christoph BruchHelmholtz Association
Sven RankHelmholtz Association
Zuzanna GorensteinGerman Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz - HRK)
Martin ReinhartGerman Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz - HRK)
Niels TaubertGerman Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz - HRK)
Lisa KressinLeibniz Association
Janna NeumannLeibniz Association
Stefan ArtmannGerman Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
Constanze BreuerGerman Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
Catherina HofmannMax Planck Society
Rainer LangeWissenschaftsrat (German Council of Science and Humanities)
Joachim E. MeierBibliotheken der Ressortforschungseinrichtungen des Bundes (BRB) (Guest)