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The peer-review system of the German Research Foundation (DFG) is unique, as proposals are reviewed by experts nominated and elected by the scientific community. This will change in the spring, however, when the DFG will select the reviewers; the elected representatives will be responsible for quality control and for writing funding recommendations based on the initial reviews. The DFG claims that the reform strengthens the principle of academic self-government, but critics of the new system warn that the DFG is reaching for power.

According to Reinhard Jahn at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, the reform was overdue. "It adapts a system that has long been in practice, albeit without [legitimacy]," says Jahn, who currently chairs the review committee in biology. He points out that since the DFG formation 50 years ago, the number of funding proposals has increased dramatically and research fields have become...

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