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The German Research Foundation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), recently introduced recommendations to enhance the transparency and evaluation of risks in international research cooperation projects, particularly those involving researchers from authoritarian countries.
Instead of imposing specific "red lines" or restrictions on certain countries or topics, the DFG aspires to exemplify a research culture that can react flexibly and efficiently to geopolitical challenges, encouraging a more nuanced and reflective approach to assess the potential risks. Applicants seeking funding for international collaborations must provide detailed explanations of potential risks, including the partner institution's affiliations and the possibility of research data misuse, recognising that a risk does not automatically imply that a project should not be implemented or funded.
The principle is that the higher the perceived risks, the more detailed the justification required for the research project, while low-risk projects need less detailed explanations. The DFG also emphasises the role of higher education institutions and research institutes in supporting researchers and ensuring ethical and legal compliance in these collaborations.
These recommendations will complement existing guidelines on security-relevant research and will be regularly updated to reflect changing circumstances.
Read the recommendations here.