Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - English


This focus report concentrates on the cooperative relationships among scientists in the Berlin research area. Cooperations can be very diverse. The focus is often on research collaborations. However, scientists can also collaborate with partners inside and outside academia in teaching or in transfer areas such as science communication or product and technology development.

The vision of the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) is to develop Berlin into an integrated research environment and to strengthen collaborations between the institutions in and beyond Berlin (Berlin University Alliance 2023). This report analyses the current level of cooperation and elicits existing potential in order to monitor the measures of the BUA regarding this goal.

The Berlin Science Survey (BSS) aims to investigate and identify changes in research culture and research practices in the Berlin research area from the perspective of scientists.It is thus a part of the monitoring of the measures by the BUA and attempts to make visible the intended and unintended effects of political steering. [1]

The baseline evaluation of the Berlin Science Survey showed that collaborative relationships, and in particular research collaborations with other universities, exist at a very high level (see Lüdtke and Ambrasat 2022a and Figure 5 below). Furthermore, collaborations were largely evaluated positively (see Lüdtke and Ambrasat 2022a and Figure 24 below). These statements refer to existing cooperative relationships. No questions about opening existing potential for additional collaborations were considered. Therefore, this focus report on collaborations addresses the following questions in more detail:

How extensive is the level of cooperation in the Berlin research area? Which cooperation structures have been established in the Berlin research area so far? Where is there (still) potential for cooperation, i.e., where is its expansion useful and desirable, and where is it not? What is the quality of existing collaborative relationships? What works well in cooperative ventures, what does not, and where might there be a need for improvement and support?

This report answers these questions using data from the pilot study of the Berlin Science Survey (Lüdtke and Ambrasat 2022b). It evaluated 1,098 questionnaires from scientists in the Berlin research area who were surveyed in the winter semester 2021–22. The focus of the evaluation is on cooperation structures, the development potential of cooperations and the evaluation of cooperative relationships. For all sub-topics, the differences between status groups, and between subject and gender groups are highlighted and discussed. These three important structural variables are intended to address the diversity of the scientific community.

The hierarchical classification of status positions into professors, postdocs and predocs not only reflects employment relationships but also career positions. The positions are also associated with a specific portfolio of tasks and roles in research and teaching. Furthermore, they indicate the researcher's scientific experience and the level of resource endowment, such as time, money, and power, to which they are allocated.

The second central structural variable is the classification by subject. The subjects were differentiated into humanities, social sciences, life sciences, natural sciences, and engineering sciences. The subject affiliation shapes the researchers’ routine work processes, institutional conditions, and, not least, their subject-specific understanding of science and scientificity. But even within a subject group, there are sometimes very large differences between the concrete working and research conditions. Differences between subject groups, therefore, only provide an (initial) indication of the diversity of research contexts.

The distinction between male and female researchers is the third structural variable and is also relevant in the context of collaborative relationships, as network research has figured out that there are gender-specific differences in this area (Lutter 2015). Such differences can play a role, for example, in the initiation of cooperative relationships.

The importance of collaborations must be considered against the backdrop of a diverse research landscape with different and, above all, discipline-specific research practices. This report attempts to do justice to this diversity, focusing on the perspectives of researchers.

The focus report on cooperation can also be downloaded here.

[1] The current focus report does not contain trend data but refers to the cross-sectional data of the pilot study carried out in the winter semester 2021–22. Trend data will be available with the second wave in 2023–24.