Digital tools — software and services

Field of action

Software and digital services are essential today for scientific work which means that research and teaching are dependent on commercial, Open Source-licensed and individually self-created software solutions. To this extent, creating access to commercial solutions, obtaining and refining free solutions and facilitating the development of individual solutions are increasingly becoming indispensable infrastructure tasks. In terms of operational practice, it is helpful to distinguish between (i) individual research software such as simulation or control software, (ii) standard software such as Office software, mathematical software or visualization packages and (iii) online services such as search engines, file-sharing tools, Open Source code repositories, document servers, data repositories, computing and storage cloud services, identity services and social networks. The business models range from free-of-charge and free of any commitment (open or libre) via data usage (“free”) and classically commercial (“paid”) to institutionally funded (sponsored).

Priorities 2018 – 2022

In connection with standard software and online services, there are challenges caused by the individual interests of the commercial or non-commercial suppliers or bodies which must be appropriately addressed through licensing or usage agreements. With regard to federated or syndicated, publicly funded structures (e.g. German Research Network or National Research Data Infrastructure) which can support infrastructure and repository services, regular dialogue with the field of action “Federated IT infrastructures” must be provided for. In terms of research software which is often created in-house as part of fixed-term projects, adherence to the principles of “good scientific practice” (such as plausibility, reproducibility, transparency and quality control) must be supported and questions of re-usability and licensing (such as issues relating to copyright, patent and liability legislation) dealt with. With regard to generic aspects of academic software development, there are already European initiatives such as Knowledge Exchange or softwareheritage with which it seems helpful to collaborate. Publication of the source code (together with associated parameters, documentation and workflows) of research software developed in many disciplines in accordance with wide-ranging and specific requirements, represents a type of scientific result sui generis which, in the same way as published research data, is increasingly to be seen alongside classical text publications and is to be considered in consultation with the field of action “Scientific publication system”.

Working group


  • Chairperson:
  • Konrad Förstner
    Georg Feulner

NameNominated by
Zeki Mustafa DoganGerman Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
Michael GoedickeGerman Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
Jürgen KettGerman Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
Florian MannseicherGerman Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
Dirk Eisengräber-PabstFraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Uwe KonradHelmholtz Association
Bernadette FritzschHelmholtz Association
Björn BrembsGerman Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz - HRK)
Konrad FörstnerGerman Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz - HRK)
Klaus WannemacherGerman Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz - HRK)
Thomas DandekarGerman Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz - HRK)
Georg FeulnerLeibniz Association
Jürgen FuhrmannLeibniz Association
Michael FrankeMax Planck Society
Stefan JanoschMax Planck Society
Johannes ReetzMax Planck Society
Mathias BornscheinBibliotheken der Ressortforschungseinrichtungen des Bundes (BRB) (Guest)