Scientific Advisory Boards

The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft has established an effective procedure for the quality assurance of scientific achievements through its Scientific Advisory Boards.

Since the 1970s, Scientific Advisory Boards have been established successively at all Max Planck Institutes and independent Research Units. The external SABs meet every three years (or more frequently in individual cases) to ensure a regular evaluation. 

The evaluation procedure is regularly reviewed and adapted to ensure high quality. The currently valid version of the "Rules for Scientific Advisory Boards and Guidelines for Evaluation" was adopted by the Senate of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft on 17 March 2023.

Evaluation purpose

The Scientific Advisory Boards

  • assess the quality and originality of research,
  • review whether the research strategy, structures and resources are conducive to the research questions addressed,
  • and – in an advisory capacity –identify areas in need of development and change as well as optimization potentials. 

In doing so, the Scientific Advisory Boards also consider those framework conditions for research that may have a significant influence on scientific quality, such as measures to support young researchers. 

Extended evaluation

For longer-term strategic planning, the view extends beyond individual Institutes: every six years an extended evaluation is carried out. For this purpose, Institutes working in similar areas are grouped into so-called research fields, and at least two external rapporteurs are appointed per research field for each extended evaluation.

The rapporteurs are not members of the respective Scientific Advisory Boards and do not conduct their own independent evaluation of the performance of the scientists at the Institutes. Rather, they gain a general overview of the implementation and outcomes of the whole set of evaluations, of the research field, and of strategically relevant topics across Institutes by participating in all meetings of the Scientific Advisory Boards within the field. The results of the extended evaluations are discussed and summarized at the subsequent meeting of the Research Field Commission.

The Scientific Advisory Boards thus support both the scientific quality assurance of individual Institutes and Research Units and the strategic planning of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft as a whole.

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