The Performance of German Research Training Groups in Different Disciplinary Fields: An Empirical Assessment
In the early 90s, the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, abbr. DFG) established a new form of graduate education: the so-called Research Training Groups (RTGs). Comparable to PhD programs in the US, RTGs offer a structured course program and a framework for collaborative research for young researchers. As a result, the completion rate of doctoral degrees and the scientific visibility of doctoral and postdoctoral research were held to increase. However, the performance of German RTGs has not been evaluated as yet. In this paper, we undertake a first step in that direction and assess the performance of German RTGs in two different disciplinary fields (humanities & social sciences vs. natural & life sciences). We do so in two important respects by assessing (1) the doctoral completion rate as an immediate outcome of the graduate teaching undertaken and (2) the scientific visibility of doctoral and postdoctoral students as measured by their publication and presentation output. In our analysis of 86 German RTGs we are able to show that the performance of German RTGs varies considerably in and between the different disciplinary fields. An additionally performed Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) hints at a considerable potential for a performance improvement.