25 Wellen SOEP

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Ernst Th. Rietschel, President of the Leibniz Association in 2008

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The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) is a cornerstone in the research infrastructure of socioeconomic and behavioral studies in Germany, Europe, and even the world. The data gathered from approximately 25,000 representative children and adults is the basis for the work of hundreds of German as well as international researchers. Thus the SOEP is an excellent example of the significant role of the Leibniz Association in the German research infrastructure.

The surveys of the SOEP are of great use for research and politics as well as for the general public. The high standard on which the SOEP staff, as all other institutions affiliated with the Leibniz Association, operates is ensured through regular external evaluations.

The SOEP is a panel study which is part of the research infrastructure-a challenge that can only be met when research and service are combined, since only those who practice research themselves will know what data other researchers need. The principal investigators of a panel study have to be able to anticipate upcoming research topics for the next few years, even decades, and shape the survey accordingly.

In general the Leibniz Association is committed to the balance between basic research and applied research. In addition, its goal is providing research infrastructure, academic service, and research-based policy advice. This bundle of aims is one of the main challenges for the SOEP, since the maintenance of such an extensive survey is very labor-intensive. Thus we were very pleased to see that the SOEP was one of three institutions that were rated "excellent" by the German Council of Science and Humanities ("Wissenschaftsrat") in its first research rating in the field of Sociology that took place in 2008. In addition, the SOEP was the only institution to be praised for its formidable combination of research, knowledge transfer, and policy advice. So as I have mentioned before, the SOEP is a prime example of an institution that embodies the ideals of the Leibniz Association.

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