German Council of Science and Humanities Research Rating: Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz earns top marks for American Studies

Assessment team gives American Studies at Mainz University very good to excellent grades in all areas / Top rank for best research quality in all of Germany


The German Council of Science and Humanities has carried out four pilot ratings of research in chemistry, sociology, electrical engineering, and British Studies and American Studies. The fourth research rating represents the organization's first attempt at rating a field in the humanities. The American Studies division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) earned very good to outstanding grades in all four criteria – research quality, reputation, support for research, and transfer to parties outside the university.

This excellence in rating places the Mainz American Studies division in the top group of particularly strong research institutions: The German Council of Science and Humanities rated the research quality at the Mainz American Studies division as "outstanding" with 5 out of 5 possible points – a rating achieved only by the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Freie Universität (FU) Berlin. The Mainz American Studies division also had above-average scores in the three other criteria, i.e. "Reputation," "Support for Research," and "Transfer." Each earned an evaluation of "outstanding / very good" with 4.5 out of 5 possible points. This overall rating places Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in the peer group of excellent American Studies at the universities of Berlin (JFK Institute), Munich, Augsburg, and Regensburg.

"The top placement in a national assessment confirms the outstanding scholarly achievements of our American Studies program," stated Professor Dr. Georg Krausch, President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "At the same time, it also strengthens our arguments for the consistent application of our profile-building strategy and our systematic support and improvement to the diversity of courses in the fields of humanities."

"The Mainz American Studies program is characterized by research projects in three areas: transnationality, interdisciplinarity, and internationalism," explained Krausch. The creation of the American Studies Center for Comparative Native and Indigenous Studies (CCNIS) at Mainz University in 2011 laid the foundation for a singular focus of research and study found nowhere else in Europe. This research on indigenous peoples complements two existing strengths of the JGU American Studies program: autobiographies and biographies as well as ecological issues.

Research at the American Studies division at Mainz University has been shaped by its far-reaching international network and success in fostering young scholars. The Tri-national Summer School, for example, a project involving collaboration with Georgia State University in the United States of America and Peking University in China, promotes the exchange of doctoral candidates and joint research projects in American Studies with other organizations, including the Institute of World Literature in Beijing."

A total of 60 universities took part in the German Science Council's Research Rating, which also included six teacher training colleges, making for a total of 90 percent of all institutions doing research in British and American Studies. The evaluation results were gained not just from quantitative data, but mostly in qualitative assessment of publications carried out by an international panel of experts. Next to exemplary excerpts of publications the panel evaluated the bibliographic output of all registered academics. The panelists also incorporated into their evaluation additional information provided by each institution and subdivisions.

According to JGU President Professor Dr. Georg Krausch, the outstanding results achieved by the university's American Studies division deserve particular attention because the evaluation process the German Council of Science and Humanities developed is particularly significant and uses strict international quality standards. The research rating results thus represent a sound basis and provide valuable insight into the capabilities of different players within the American Studies landscape.

"The strength of the rating process lies in its linking of quantitative and qualitative analyses," argues Krausch. The German Science Council Research Rating thus creates greater transparency, supplements the existing quality assurance and performance review process, and places the university administration in a better position to make strategic decisions about how to go about profile building.