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Dr. Janika Spannagel

Spannagel-Katy Otto 2021(5)
Image Credit: Katy Otto

Freie Universität Berlin

Postdoctoral Researcher, Project "Science Friction: Patterns, Causes and Effects of Academic Freedom Contestations", Postdoctoral Researcher Representative

Edwin-Redslob-Straße 29
14195 Berlin

Dr. Janika Spannagel is a postdoctoral researcher at Freie Universität Berlin at the Cluster of Excellence “Contestations of the Liberal Scripts (SCRIPTS)" and a visiting scholar at Stanford University, USA. Her current work focuses on the diffusion and contestation of academic freedom norms. She is also a non-resident fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute, where she co-developed the Academic Freedom Index prior to her position at FU Berlin. In 2022, she won the 1st prize of the Fundamental Academic Values Award of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for an "outstanding scientific contribution to the promotion of fundamental academic values". Her doctoral thesis at the University of Freiburg dealt with the international protection of human rights defenders in authoritarian contexts through attention-based casework. For her work and studies she has received various scholarships from the German National Academic Foundation, the DAAD, and the Mercator Foundation.

Research Interests

  • Democratization and Autocratization
  • Academic Freedom
  • Human Rights and Political Repression
  • International and Transnational Relations

Current Research projects at SCRIPTS

Janika Spannagel is part of the project "Science Friction: Patterns, Causes and Effects of Academic Freedom Contestations" as a postdoctoral researcher.


International attention and the protection of human rights defenders: Campaigning for agents of change (2023), Abingdon: Routledge.

University autonomy decline: Causes, responses, and implications for academic freedom (2022) with Roberts Lyer, K. and Saliba, I., Abingdon: Routledge.

Book Chapters 

“Menschenrechte als demokratische Praxis: Eine Auseinandersetzung mit Hannah Arendt” [engl. Human rights as democratic practice: Grappling with Hannah Arendt] (2023), in: Krennerich, M., Lissowsky, M. and Schendel, M. (eds.), Die Freiheit der Menschenrechte: Festschrift für Heiner Bielefeldt zum 65. Geburtstag, Frankfurt: Wochenschau Verlag, pp. 189–207.

 “The perks and hazards of data sources on academic freedom: An inventory” (2020), in:  Kinzelbach, K. (ed.), Researching academic freedom - Guidelines and sample case studies, Erlangen: FAU University Press, pp. 175–221.

“Erklärung zu Menschenrechtsverteidigern (1998)” [engl: Declaration on human rights defenders (1998)] (2020), in: Stahl, D. (ed.), Quellen zur Geschichte der Menschenrechte: Bd. 2 Kommentierte Schlüsseltexte, Göttingen: Wallstein, pp. 369–385.

“Measuring academic freedom across the world: Insights from a new exploratory project” (2020), in: Noorda, S., Scott, P. & Vukasovic, M. (eds.), Bologna process beyond 2020: Fundamental values of the EHEA, Bologna: Bononia University Press, pp. 27–33.

“New ways to address an old problem: Political repression” (2018), with K. Kinzelbach, in: Rodríguez-Garavito, C. & Gomez, K. (eds.), Rising to the populist challenge, Bogotá: Dejusticia, pp. 185–196.

Journal Articles

Die Ambivalenz des Zweifels. Wissenschaftsfeindlichkeit als Gefahrenquelle für die liberale Ordnung” [engl: The ambivalence of doubt - Hostility to science as a source of danger for the liberal order] (2024), in: Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte, 17:2, pp. 7–26.

"Introducing Academic Freedom in Constitutions: a new global dataset, 1789–2022" (2023) in: European Political Science (EPS) (published online 14 September).

The Academic Freedom Index and its indicators: Introduction to new global time‑series V‑Dem data” (2022) with Kinzelbach, K., in: Quantity & Quality (published online 13 October).

Global data on the freedom indispensable for scientific research: Towards a reconciliation of academic reputation and academic freedom” (2021), with Kinzelbach, K. and Saliba, I., in: The International Journal of Human Rights (published online ahead of print 7 December).

Ereignisdaten: Irrlichter in der Erfassung menschenrechtlicher Trends” [engl: Events data: Will-o'-wisps in the documentation of human rights trends] (2019), in: Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte, 13:1, pp. 7–26.


Academic Freedom in Constitutions (AFC) Dataset (1789–2022)” (2023), Harvard Dataverse, V2.

"HRD-Amnesty Dataset (1961–2018)" (2023), Harvard Dataverse, V1.

"HRD-UNCases Dataset (2000–2016)" (2023), Harvard Dataverse, V1.

"Academic freedom indicators (v2cafres, v2cafexch, v2cainsaut, v2casurv, v2cacritic)" (2020) with Kinzelbach, K., Saliba, I. and the V-Dem team, V-Dem Dataset (V10–).

"International legal commitment to academic freedom under ICESCR (v2caacadfree)" (2020) with Kinzelbach, K. and Polakiewicz, A., V-Dem Dataset (V10–).

"Existence of universities (v2cauni)" (2020) with Polakiewicz, A., V-Dem Dataset (V10–).

Other Publications

"Quality assessment of the Academic Freedom Index: Strengths, weaknesses, and how best to use it" (2023) with Pelke, L., University of Gothenburg, V-Dem Working Papers series.

"Rethinking campaigns on human rights defenders" (2023), OpenGlobalRights. 

"Wissenschaftsfreiheit: Wenn Forschung angegriffen wird" (2023), interview in Exzellent erklärt Podcast.

Academic Freedom Index – 2023 Update” (2023) with Kinzelbach, K., Lindberg, S. and Pelke, L., Erlangen: FAU & V-Dem.

Wie hängen Hochschulautonomie und Wissenschaftsfreiheit zusammen?” (2022), interview with Kercher, J.: Wissenschaft weltoffen. 

Wissenschaftsfreiheit weltweit und internationale akademische Mobilität in Deutschland: Der Academic Freedom Index als Instrument für Hochschulforschung und Hochschulpraxis” (2022) with Pelke, L. and Kinzelbach, K., in: DAAD Forschung Kompakt, 6, p. 1-14.

Die Vermessung von Wissenschaftsfreiheit - Ergebnisse und Hintergründe des Academic Freedom Index” [engl: Assessing academic freedom – Results and background of the Academic Freedom Index] (2021), with Kinzelbach, K., in: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 71:46, pp. 34–41.

A perfect shitstorm: Scientists in the pandemic” (2021), GPPi online magazine.

COVID-19 and academic freedom – What’s the connection? (Introduction)” (2021), with Benner, T. and Saliba, I., GPPi online magazine.

Free universities - Putting the Academic Freedom Index into action” (2021), with Kinzelbach, K, Saliba, I. and Quinn, R., Berlin: GPPi. 

UN action on reprisals: Towards greater impact. A quantitative analysis of the scope and impact of UN action on intimidation and reprisals through the lens of the Secretary-General’s annual reports” (2021), Geneva: ISHR.

The Academic Freedom Index: A powerful instrument for policy and practice” (2021) with Saliba, I., in: European University Association Expert Voices.

The Academic Freedom Index and other new indicators relating to academic space: An introduction” (2020), with Kinzelbach, K. and Saliba, I., University of Gothenburg, V-Dem Users’ Working Papers series.

 “The Effectiveness of individual casework on human rights defenders: An empirical study of the UN Special Procedure cases 2004–2015” (2019), University of York, Human Rights Defender Hub Working Papers series.

Chasing shadows: A quantitative analysis of the scope and impact of UN communications on human rights defenders (2000–2016)” (2017), Berlin: GPPi.