Deutsche Gesellschaft für Chirurgie

AWMF-Positionspapier zur Evaluation der medizinischen Forschungsleistung


Objective: The evaluation of medical research performance is a key prerequisite for the systematic advancement of medical faculties, research foci, academic departments, and individual scientists’ careers. However, it is often based on vaguely defined aims and questionable methods and can thereby lead to unwanted regulatory effects. The current paper aims at defining the position of German academic medicine toward the aims, methods, and consequences of its evaluation.

Methods: During the Berlin Forum of the Association of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany (AWMF) held on 18 October 2013, international experts presented data on methods for evaluating medical research performance. Subsequent discussions among representatives of relevant scientific organizations and within three ad-hoc writing groups led to a first draft of this article. Further discussions within the AWMF Committee for Evaluation of Performance in Research and Teaching and the AWMF Executive Board resulted in the final consented version presented here.

Results: The AWMF recommends modifications to the current system of evaluating medical research performance. Evaluations should follow clearly defined and communicated aims and consist of both summative and formative components. Informed peer reviews are valuable but  feasible in longer time intervals only. They can be complemented by objective indicators. However, the Journal Impact Factor is not an appropriatemeasure for evaluating individual publications or their authors. The scientific “impact” rather requires multidimensional evaluation. Indicators of potential relevance in this context may include, e.g., normalized citation rates of scientific publications, other forms of reception by the scientific community and the public, and activities in scientific organizations, research synthesis and science communication. In addition, differentiated recommendations are made for evaluating the acquisition of third-party funds and the promotion of junior scientists.

Conclusions: With the explicit recommendations presented in the current position paper, the AWMF suggests enhancements to the practice of evaluating medical research performance by faculties, ministries and research funding organizations.

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