Working hypotheses

2. Thesis: Precarious working conditions endanger the quality of scientific work.


The science system is characterized by high performance expectations and great competition. The Federal Report for Young Scientists (BuWiN) 2021 documents that 92 percent of full-time staff at universities are employed on a temporary basis. Professors and persons over 45 years of age were excluded from this figure. The employees are deprived of future prospects and job security by fixed-term contracts: They are in constant competition. In addition, there are unmanageable working hours and thus massive overtime, which is often neither remunerated nor recorded despite legal obligations. These working conditions are stressful, overburdening and, among other things, interfere with family planning.

The Code of Good Scientific Practice, which was adopted by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in August 2019, addresses many of the problems mentioned. It attempts to provide a basis for changing them in DFG-funded projects. However, institutions often lack the conditions to comply with and monitor said measures across the board. Universities and chairs benefit from a low-cost and at the same time motivated workforce. Due to its hierarchical structures, the science system offers room for abuse of power. Management should be obliged to create conditions that promote healthy employment, fair working conditions and thus also high-quality science. Movements from affected groups such as “Ich bin Hanna” already point to parts of the problem and call for sustainable changes.

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