With the additional goal of creating the best possible conditions for internationally competitive research, research infrastructures have gained increasing importance in the research and higher education system since the early 2000s.
In 2001, the German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftsrat, WR) was first asked by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to conduct a comparative evaluation of nine large-scale facilities for basic research in the natural sciences. It included fundamental statements on the facilities’ future importance and funding. The indication at that time – that in the future the majority of the large-scale facilities would no longer be viable in a national context, but only in the European and international context – was decisive for further funding policy considerations.
Since then, the WR has twice (2011 and 2015) initiated a scientific evaluation of large research infrastructures at the request of the BMBF; a committee, which is currently dormant, was set up and mandated to carry out the evaluation independently. The aim of the evaluation is to provide the BMBF with a scientific decision-making basis for a so-called “National Roadmap” for large research infrastructures and their implementation in the European context.