Open Access

Financial Research Support for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Chemistry in Germany - Results of an Online Survey

  • Henner Hollert1Email author,
  • Juliane Filser2,
  • Roger Häußling3,
  • Michaela Hein4,
  • Michael Matthies5,
  • Jörg Oehlmann6,
  • Hans-Toni Ratte7,
  • Martina Roß-Nickoll7,
  • Andreas Schäffer7,
  • Martin Scheringer8 and
  • Andreas Schiwy1
Environmental Sciences EuropeBridging Science and Regulation at the Regional and European Level201123:24

DOI: 10.1186/2190-4715-23-24

Received: 29 June 2011

Accepted: 6 July 2011

Published: 6 July 2011


In recent years several initiatives addressed the inadequate financial support of pollutant-related environmental research in the Federal Republic of Germany. For an objective analysis about the research funding in ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry in Germany, an anonymous online survey was prepared. With support of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) - German Language Branch and the German Chemical Society (GDCh) - Division of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology an invitation to participate in the survey was sent to all members of these two major associations for ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry in Germany (D), Switzerland (CH) and Austria (A). Only senior staff from the areas academics, government and industry was invited. The present article introduces the results of the survey. It is segmented in a section on socio-economic characterization of the participants, a section on support of research by the DFG and a section on funding by other funding organizations. A total of 71 male and female scientists in senior positions from various areas participated in the survey. The results revealed that the participants are to be classified as having excellent records. 48.5% of the respondents had submitted at least one research proposal to the DFG in the past, but one third actually received financial support by the DFG. 64% are not satisfied with the DFG support of pollutant-related research, only 7% are satisfied. It turned out that the research proposals are generally very heterogeneous and thus distributed to various units of the DFG with geosciences, water research and chemistry ranking highest, followed by biology and ecology. 91.2% of the respondents indicated that they have submitted proposals for research funding to other funding institutions (except the DFG), and 83.6% already have received appropriate external funding. 62.3% of the scientists believe that overall support for chemicals-related research in recent years has significantly deteriorated or is deteriorating. The vast majority of respondents (60.9%) is dissatisfied with the funding situation, only 10.9% are satisfied. When asked "Is the total research funding in other European countries superior to that in Germany?" 30% answered "yes", 9% answered "no" and 61% "do not know". In summary the survey shows that the funding situation for research in ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry in Germany is improvable, and with respect to the DFG it is considered problematic. The noticeable under-representation of the DFG in comparison to other funding institutions shows that the most important funding body in Germany does not take into account the requirements of pollutant-related environmental sciences. In particular the answers to the open questions regarding improvement of research funding should be used as a basis for an open dialogue of chemicals-related environmental research institutes with the funding institutions DFG, BMBF and DBU and corresponding institutions in CH and A.


Ecotoxicology Environmental Chemistry Online Survey Research funding