In its findings, the German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftsrat, WR) distinguishes three formats: Position Statements, recommendations and policy papers.
Position Statements refer to individual institutions or parts thereof or locations and classify these in terms of science policy based on an evaluation procedure. Typical cases of Position Statements are institutional (re-)accreditations, evaluations and location reviews of medical schools. The standard procedure for Position Statements is a so-called “two-stage procedure”, in which a working group set up for the specific case and the higher-level committee each have different functions: the working group is responsible for the expert assessment (non-amendable assessment report) and the committee is responsible for the science-policy classification (Position Statement), in which science-policy and systematic-structural aspects can also come into play in addition to the expert assessment.
Recommendations (sometimes also referred to as “structural papers”) are texts which focus on structural aspects of the research and higher education system (e.g. research and teaching), specific science-policy issues (such as the development and quality assurance of the higher education sector) or overarching aspects of the research and higher education system (planning, governance, funding). They are usually divided into a description of the status quo (“initial situation”), an analysis of the findings and the resulting recommendations.
With its policy papers, the WR can – independently of the work programme – react to current topics and developments in a foreseeable period of time with short, pointed papers. In contrast to other publication formats of the WR, these papers do not require the time-consuming processing of extensive empirical information being integrated in the text. In general, the format is characterised by great procedural, thematic and formal flexibility.