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The operationalization of scientific emigration loss 1933-1945 : a methodological study on the measurement of a qualitative phenomenon

Die Operationalisierung des wissenschaftlichen Emigrationsverlustes 1933-1945 : eine methodologische Untersuchung der Messung eines qualitativen Phänomens
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Fischer, Klaus

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Abstract Die Zuverlässigkeit von quantitativen Untersuchungen zum 'Emigrationsverlust', den die deutsche Wissenschaft in den Jahren 1933 bis 1945 erlitten hat, ist stark abhängig von der korrekten Wahl der Bezugsgruppe. Eine Analyse des Emigrationsverlustes der deutschen Physik wurde durchgeführt, wobei drei Operationalisierungsansätze getestet wurden: 1. Personenorientierte Definitionen; 2. Literaturbasierte Ansätze (Produktivität); 3. Definitionen auf der Basis wissenschaftlicher Fähigkeit (Zitierungshäufigkeit). Ferner wurden einige qualitative Dimensionen einbezogen, wie Verlust in Kernfächern oder Verlust in wissenschaftlichen Spitzenpositionen. Es zeigt sich dabei, daß der Verlust der deutschen Physik bei der wissenschaftlichen Spitzenposition in Kernfächern extrem hoch war. Im Falle der Kernphysik lag er beim Kriterium wissenschaftlicher Fähigkeiten bei 50 Prozent. (psz)

'In analyzing traditional and current contentions on the 'emigration loss' suffered by german science between 1933 and 1945 the validity of quantitative conclusions drawn by several authors is shown to depend crucially on chosing the correct reference group. Some recent contributions not fulfilling this condition tend to grossly overestimate the loss concurring with the process of Nazi seizure of power. An indepth analysis of the emigration losses suffered by the physics community in Germany, however, leads to the conclusion that the usual concept the 'emigration loss' itself is logically defect. Three basically different operationalizations of the concept are empirically tested: 1. person oriented definitions; 2. literature (productivity) based definitions; and 3. scientific excellency (citation) based definitions. In addition, more qualitative dimensions of emigration loss are identified: loss in core specialities vs. loss in peripherical specialities; loss in scientific leadership vs. loss in 'indians'. It is provided that the loss experienced by German physics upsurges with shifting from operationalization 1 to 2 or 3, and from 2 to 3, and that the loss in scientific leadership in core specialities of physical science was extremly high. In the case of nuclear physics the loss in scientific excellence thus definined is calculated as an amounting to about 50 percent.' (author's abstract)
Keywords German Reich; emigration (polit. or relig. reasons); methodology; Nazism; physics; science; scientist
Classification Social History, Historical Social Research
Document language English
Publication Year 1988
Page/Pages p. 99-121
Journal Historical Social Research, 13 (1988) 4
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works