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VORAUS – research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

VORAUS – research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Further development of established quality assurance: What are the precausions and consensuses of a partially randomized selection of research projects in the scientific field?


The scientific field has developed its own procedures of self-regulation and self-control such as peer review procedures or juries. Peer review procedures, however, are partly criticized for privileging "mainstream research." Semi-randomized selection of grant applications is considered an alternative to mitigate the orthodoxy inherent in established formats and to increase the chances of funding non-mainstream research. But would this work? In our study, we assume that changes in the established frameworks of quality assurance presumably have an inhibiting effect. First, one should consider that the allocation of material resources relies on scientifically grounded evaluations. This, especially in view of the increased one-third dependence of research, often means making research and scientific career paths possible in the first place. Secondly, the allocation of symbolic resources such as scientific reputation, visibility, etc. is increasingly tied to the established framework.

The research project investigates four main aspects of the application of semi-randomized selection: 

  1. What are the reservations and consensus of partially randomized selection in the scientific field?
  2. Which consequences are anticipated with regard to the introduction of a semi-randomized selection on the symbolic allocations attached to the established peer review procedures?
  3. How can a partially randomized selection be framed to promote non-mainstream research?
  4. Can this proposal for further development be framed in an adequate way at all for the scientific field?  

The project elaborates reservations and understandings in the scientific field about partial randomization and clarifies what is currently considered scientifically adequate. 

Keywords: partial randomization, non-mainstream research, research funding, scientific reputation, acceptance.

Funding Period:01.04.2019 - 31.03.2022
Principal Investigators:

PD Dr. Axel Philipps

Prof. Dr. Eva Barlösius   

Researcher:PD Dr. Axel Philipps 

Marie Ahlers, Katharina Herrmann, Nicole Plinke, Julia Weymann


Barlösius, Eva & Philipps, Axel. (2022). Random grant allocation from the researchers’ perspective: Introducing the distinction into legitimate and illegitimate problems in Bourdieu’s field theory. Social Science Information, OnlineFirst.

Barlösius, Eva & Philipps, Axel. (2021). Verlosung von Forschungsgeldern: Welche Losverfahren können sich Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler vorstellen? Qualität in der Wissenschaft, 15(3+4), 67-72.

Barlösius, Eva & Philipps, Axel. (2020). LCSS Working Paper No. 6 Lotto in der Wissenschaft: Feldinterne und -externe Widersprüche durch nichtwissenschaftliche Entscheidungsverfahren auflösen?    

Philipps, Axel. (2021). Losverfahren in der Wissenschaft. UniMagazin Hannover, Heft 3-4.

Philipps, Axel. (2021). Research funding randomly allocated? A survey of scientists’ views on peer review and lotteryScience and Public Policy, scab084.    

Philipps, Axel. (2021). Science rules! A qualitative study of scientists’ approaches to grant lotteryResearch Evaluation, 30(1), 102-111.