Studies on BIF

The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF) funds outstanding junior scientists and strives for excellence itself. Just as we select our fellows with the help of internationally renowned scientists on our Board of Trustees and external experts, from time to time, we also ask external experts to evaluate our work. Below you can find the results of two of these studies.

BIF's work is high quality

For the third time, the Centre for Social Investment (CSI) at Heidelberg University has analysed the work of non-profit foundations. Among the eight participants of the 2017/2018 study were the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF), the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU, German Federal Environmental Foundation), and the Volkswagen Foundation.

Through an online survey, the Learning from Partners (LfP) study systematically evaluated the cooperation and the relationship between foundations and their partners (applicants, grantees, and others). The partners were asked to give feedback about their level of satisfaction with the work of “their” foundation and about topics such as administration, capacity building, and the general perception of the foundation. The study shows that the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds is perceived as a renowned organization that is reliable and has high standards and that it “obtains high levels of satisfaction among its partners”. Furthermore, the BIF’s “purposeful and customized supportive programmes” are rated as highly beneficial for academic careers.

The BIF does not intend to rest on these laurels: It will also use the feedback from the recent study to further optimize its programmes and processes.

Comments from LfP participants

“For me, it was very motivating for my career as a scientist to be a part of BIF’s funding programme. BIF has the extraordinary talent to create a feeling of belonging.”

"BIF promotes excellence, creative thinking and brings great minds from various parts of the world together. BIF fosters future leaders in various fields of life sciences."

BIF fellows are outstanding

First comprehensive study on peer review for the allocation of fellowships to young scientists

Social science researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), Switzerland, showed in a study published in 2004 that the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF) succeeds in selecting and supporting outstanding up-and-coming young scientists. Furthermore, the study demonstrates that BIF's peer-review process is valid for the selection of doctoral and post-doctoral fellowship recipients.

Dr Lutz Bornmann and Professor Dr Hans-Dieter Daniel analysed a total of 2,697 applications submitted to the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds between 1985 and 2000. They examined the three most important quality criteria for selection procedures:

  • Does the BIF really select the best young scientists (predictive validity)?
  • Is the selection procedure reliable (reliability)?
  • Are all groups of applicants treated equally (fairness)?

On the whole, the study confirmed that the selection procedure of the BIF is highly valid.

Results of the ETH study

  • More than 98 % of BIF’s fellowship holders successfully complete their PhD.
  • The scientific papers of BIF fellows are published in the most prestigious journals (in the order of descending number of papers): Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA, Journal of Biological Chemistry, EMBO Journal, Nature, Development, Cell, Science etc.
  • The citation rates of the fellows’ papers are far above international reference citation values.
  • The BIF's selection procedure is as reliable as that of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the USA.
  • The applicants’ nationality does not play a role in the selection process.
  • Applicants for PhD fellowships who pursue their project at a Max Planck Institute have a better chance of receiving a fellowship than other groups of applicants; applications from chemists and women are less successful.
  • With regard to the allocation of post-doctoral fellowships, women are as successful as men and no difference can be found between any group of applicants.