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International panel praises the DNRF (2013)

The Danish National Research Foundation was evaluated in 2013 by an international panel consisting of:

  • Dr. Wilhelm Krull, Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation (chair),
  • Dr. Jung-Hoon Chun, Director of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA,
  • Dr. Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, Montreal, Canada,
  • Dr. Barbara König, Managing Director of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies and Professor of Zoology, University of Zurich, Switzerland, and
  • Dr. Pär Omling, President of the European Science Foundation (ESF) and Vice-President of Science Europe, Professor at Lund University, Sweden

The panel concluded that the DNRF has been instrumental in raising the quality of Danish research to the high levels seen today, as demonstrated in several international studies. The panel clearly recommended that the foundation be ensured future funding that will maintain its activities at the same level for at least an additional 10 years.

"The high-trust modes of operation of the DNRF and its CoEs have proven to be extremely successful. (…) The evaluation panel therefore strongly recommends to enable the DNRF to continue its impressively successful operations and advises the Danish Parliament to take the necessary decisions for refunding the DNRF in such a way that the capital stock is sufficient to maintain its current annual budget of 400 m DKK in real terms for at least another 10 years."

Wilhelm Krull

Chairman of the evaluation panel

In particular, the panel cited the great success of the Centers of Excellence program. The centers create unique environments that have spawned world-class research and researchers.

The center design itself constitutes a superb framework for supporting new and groundbreaking research, and the center concept presents a model for cultivating outstanding research in Denmark as well as abroad. Focusing on quality has also proven to be an important instrument of internationalization. The centers attract both top researchers and top research talent from around the world. Thus, two-thirds of all post-docs and approximately 40% of the Ph.D.s at the centers are recruited from abroad.

In its report the panel made a number of recommendations to the government, the foundation, and the research system. Read all of the recommendations here.
A comprehensive bibliometric analysis of the centers’ research is included in the evaluation material. The analysis shows that research at the Centers of Excellence is

On a par with the very best

DNRF centers can compete with the very best research institutions in the world, including Stanford and MIT, when it comes to the impact of articles published in prestigious multidisciplinary journals such as Science, Nature and PNAS.

Overall citation impact (PPtop10%) of DNRF-publications compared to benchmark units in Multidisciplinary Journals (NOWT-high classification scheme).

The next generation of scientists emanates from the centers

The centers are strong nurturing environments. A bibliometric analysis shows that, to a very high degree, new researchers from centers succeed in publishing an article with high impact within the first three years after they publish their first article. Thus, the effects of DNRF funding go far beyond the funding period.

The centers can—even by themselves

As mentioned, the centers are international in scope and they collaborate and publish widely with foreign partners. Thus, the bibliometric analysis shows that foreign co-authors are involved in 58% of the publications from the centers. However, the analysis also indicates that “home-grown” research results—that is, those produced within the centers and published with no outside co-authors—have a remarkably high impact, as well.

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