Research project

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A research project is a temporary undertaking by one or more scientists or an institute or a scientific society with the aim of gaining new knowledge in an important or particularly topical research topic . As a rule, it is not financed from the institute's current budget, but mainly through " third-party funds " (research funds , public or industrial funding).

Research projects are increasingly being carried out by interdisciplinary working groups . With the appropriate success and need, permanent structures such as a scientific service can emerge from this.

As is clear from reports of promotion -Fonds or research ministries can be seen, most research projects accounted for medicine , science and technology , with the applied against the basic research prevails in most funds. In principle, however, all areas of knowledge should be represented, such as history and social sciences , economics , theology , literature or media studies and also so-called " orchid subjects " that are hardly applicable . Astronomy stands out among them for a large number of projects because it enjoys high - also philosophical - interest of the general public.


A research project is - in contrast to other ongoing activities of those involved - primarily a one-off project in the narrower area of ​​the specialist area or - in addition to this - a new step in an interdisciplinary direction. Because of the novelty of the path, a project also includes the risk of partial failure . A detailed project application must be prepared in order to obtain funding . In addition to the goals and risks, the methods and resources, time and financial planning and information about the qualifications of the project manager, it also contains a popular short version .

In the general sense , DIN 69901 defines a project as "a project that is essentially characterized by the uniqueness of the conditions in their entirety, such as target setting , time, financial, personnel and other limitations; delimitation from other projects; project-specific organization . "
For application-related projects , the definition of the "Project Management Body of Knowledge" of the USA (Project Management Institute) partially applies: a temporary effort to create a unique product or service - the last two words referring to "scientific knowledge or the development of methods or services . Prototypes "would have to be replaced.

Typical criteria

  • complex, novel task that mostly requires experience and intuition
  • Definition of a research goal (not always clearly possible)
  • limited resources (funds for equipment, personnel etc .; usually to be applied for from a research fund )
  • before approval, assessment of the above Points from external (mostly foreign) experts, see also double-blind reports
  • Time limitation (start and end, "project duration")
  • today increasingly interdisciplinary processing of the topic
  • usually teamwork in a working group
  • In the case of complex objectives, methods of project management and division into core team and extended project team
  • Risk of partial or total failure.

If completely new scientific territory is broken, it is not always possible to define a clear goal for a project in this research area. This is due to the nature of basic research . In such cases, it must be possible in the sense of the scientific, social and financial responsibility of the project manager to adapt the research goal in the course of the project. This is another reason why it is common to send one or more interim reports to the funder or the university if a project is running for a longer period of time . In any case, a detailed final report is required.

In applied research projects - which are often funded by business funds or sponsored by companies - the goal is often to develop a method for better or more environmentally friendly production. As a rule, knowledge and experience from previous projects are incorporated here.

The publication of research results is important, on the one hand, for appropriate disclosure to the scientific "community", on the other hand, to increase awareness and reputation of the researchers involved. Any patent is also considered a publication for technical tasks . It usually not only serves to protect economic interests, but is also intended to avoid "reinventing the wheel" in processes that are important in several ways.

Distributed computing projects enable private individuals to participate in institutional research projects.

See also


  • Waldemar Bauer, Jörn Bleck-Neuhaus, Rainer Dombois, Ingo S. Wehrtmann: Developing research projects - from the idea to the publication , UTB / Nomos, Baden-Baden 2013, ISBN 978-3-8252-4019-6
  • Cristina Besio: research projects. On organizational change in science . Transcript, Bielefeld 2009, ISBN 978-3-8376-1097-0 .
  • Satellite geodesy research group: Research and development program 2011-2015 , Munich-Frankfurt-Bonn June 2010. (As an example of a large-scale interdisciplinary project, see PDF file )

Individual evidence

  1. See Torsten Kahlert: Review of: Besio, Cristina: Forschungsprojekte. On organizational change in science. Bielefeld 2009 . In: H-Soz-u-Kult , May 27, 2011, accessed May 27, 2011.