Review Process

Ship time on the German research vessels POLARSTERN, METEOR, SONNE, MARIA S. MERIAN, ALKOR, HEINCKE, and ELISABETH MANN BORGESE is allocated on the basis of scientific cruise proposals that have been evaluated in an international peer review process. Taking into account these external reviews and the cruise proposals, the Review Panel German Research Vessels (GPF, list of GPF members) finds recommendations on the inclusion of proposals in the cruise schedules.

For the review criteria, please refer to the following document that is provided to all external reviewers: Guidelines for Reviewing Cruise Proposals.

The joint review process implements the recommendations of the German Science Council ("Empfehlungen zur zukünftigen Entwicklung der deutschen marinen Forschungsflotte", 2010). In addition, the joint process ensures that cruise results and data are evaluated following standardized criteria, and are made available to the scientific community (see "Cruise Reports and Data").

Evaluation of the review process (2021)
In connection with the introduction of the joint review process in 2018, it was agreed that the process would be evaluated after three years by the BMBF, DFG, HGF, and the institutions operating the vessels. For this purpose, focus group interviews were conducted in spring 2021 with users, reviewers, panel members, and operators. As a result of the evaluation, the participating institutions arrived at the following decisions based on their experience of the review process to date and the findings generated by the interviews:

  • The core elements of the review process (external review, review panel, separation of scientific review and logistical planning, administration by a GPF office) have proven to be purposeful and efficient, ensuring transparent decisions according to uniform standards. The joint review process will therefore continue indefinitely.
  • Potential for optimization was identified in partial aspects such as the website and the information it offers, the submission system, specifications details in the instructions and assessment criteria, as well as the system of coordination between the review panel and operators in the prioritization of cruises. The suggestions were acted on wherever possible and the documents have been adapted accordingly. The website (German Research Vessels portal, submission system) is being continuously expanded and will be revised in the medium term if necessary.
  • The composition of the panel was adjusted for the second mandate period (2022-2025) in order to reflect greater international breadth, a higher proportion of female scientists, better representation of the biological sciences, and a more balanced workload for panel members.
  • The name of the panel was changed to “Begutachtungspanel Forschungsschiffe”. The established acronym GPF will be retained.
  • In future, pre-announced cruise proposals for projects involving a consortium must include an additional annex to the cruise proposal summarizing the scientific objectives and work programme of the consortium project and outlining the significance of the work programme of the proposed cruise in relation to the project as a whole.
  • Cruise proposals can now be submitted all year round without fixed submission deadlines. Recommended lead times are indicated in the portal (see section “Cruise Proposals”).
  • The scientific reporting obligation has been simplified. The separate Scientific Report and its evaluation in the GPF are no longer required. Instead, two years after completion of the cruise, presentation of the results is expected at the next possible status conference, requiring submission of an extended abstract with details of project-related publications and presentations. For further information see section “Reports and Data”.