Evaluation of the Research Award Programmes (2019)

Alle Evaluationen von Förderprogrammen der Humboldt-Stiftung 

The Humboldt Foundation grants research awards to eminent international scientists and scholars in recognition of their outstanding research achievements. At the heart of the research award programmes are the Humboldt Research Award and the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award. The latter targets younger researchers who completed their doctorates within the previous 18 years.

The research award programmes make a substantial contribution to establishing, reinforcing and sustaining research cooperation between the award winners and researchers in Germany. This is demonstrated by the findings of the evaluation conducted on behalf of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation by the agency, Inspire Research, in 2019.

The combination of award, personal award money and invitation to Germany is one of the significant unique features of the research award programmes. The study confirms that short, but frequent, research visits are typical for long-term collaborative relationships. In the majority of cases, award winners’ experience of Germany as a science and research location is very positive from a scientific point of view.

In terms of impact, however, there are differences between the Humboldt and the Bessel award programmes. Bessel award winners see it more as a chance to expand their career opportunities whilst Humboldt award winners tend to emphasise the honour aspect of the award.

The proportion of female award winners increased significantly between 2007 and 2017 but still falls short of national and international benchmarks. The data collected for the evaluation shows that women are nominated much more frequently by other women, rather than by men, and are also hosted more frequently by women.

These and other findings were produced by the evaluation survey on the basis of a procedure combining qualitative and quantitative methods. The core elements were an online survey of alumni from all cohorts, and hosts as of 2007, telephone and personal interviews with 20 award winners, hosts, stakeholders and experts, bibliometric evaluations of the selection cohorts from 2012 to 2015, an evaluation of funding statistics, and extensive document analysis. In total, approximately 64 percent of award winners and approximately 56 percent of hosts were surveyed.