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Method of Operation

Advising Policymakers and Society

Advising Policymakers and Society

Foto: AdobeStock | fotobeu

The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina advises policymakers and the public on pressing social issues that require a scientifically sound evaluation. Interdisciplinary groups of researchers, therefore, publish papers that present scientific content comprehensibly and make it readily accessible. These may include statements, discussion papers, reports on tomorrow's science, or factsheets. Thus, the Leopoldina contributes to ensuring that political decisions can be made based on reliable scientific findings. It fosters an informed public dialogue with complementary events.

The Leopoldina is free to choose its research subjects. Depending on the subject, the Leopoldina cooperates with other academies and scientific institutions, public institutions, and international partner institutions.

Interdisciplinary bodies of science-based advice

  • Focus group: ongoing and regular discussion of current developments in a major field of research and short-term consultation on specific, socially pressing issues
  • Standing committee: long-term support of scientific discourse and societal debate on a comprehensive issue as well as initiation of working groups and realisation of events on specific topics
  • Working group: elaboration of a detailed statement on a concrete socially relevant topic and development of options for action within approx. one to three years

To enable a faster response to societal challenges than before, the Leopoldina has set up so-called focus groups to complement the standing committees. The experiences during the coronavirus pandemic have clearly indicated the demand for swift work processes and the need for a permanent advisory infrastructure in order to develop analyses and options for action at short notice. Focus groups continuously monitor developments in their respective subject areas and identify current needs for advice. If necessary, they publish publications at short notice - possibly with the involvement of other experts.

This type of ad-hoc consultation does not replace in-depth elaboration on any topic. Focus groups rather complement the work of the standing committees. Standing committees contribute to shaping interdisciplinary discussions in the long term, identify important perspective issues and explore them in greater detail through symposia and workshops. Topics requiring more in-depth work continue to be dealt with by working groups, which provide a scientific basis for public discussions and political responses and identify options for action to address societal challenges.

Guideliens for Policy Advice

  • Work based on the best evidence available
  • Transparent mode of operation with comprehensible documentation
  • Disclosure of existing uncertainties and diverging scientific positions
  • Preparation of advisory papers irrespective of economic and political interests
  • Open-ended advisory process design by inclusion of varying disciplines



Elmar König

Head of Department Science – Policy – Society, Head of Berlin Office

Phone 030 203 8997 - 865
E-Mail elmar.koenig (at)leopoldina.org

Nutzung von großen Sprachmodellen

Mit dem Aufkommen frei verfügbarer Texterstellungswerkzeuge wie ChatGPT von OpenAI hat die Leopoldina Leitlinien zum Umgang mit diesen Modellen erstellt. Diese Leitlinien gelten für alle Publikationen, die von der Leopoldina veröffentlicht werden.