Most researchers are positive about the new ‘recognition and rewards’ system, but postdocs and full professors expect little of it. This emerges from a poll by news platform ScienceGuide.
Previously, university researchers were judged mainly on their publications: how many are there, in what journals do they appear and are they often cited by other scientists?
That is too rigid, in the view of a large number of academics. You also have to be able to make a career at the university if you give good instruction or propagate scientific knowledge in the community at large. Leadership, team science and other tasks ought to be recognised as well.
But how do you put that ‘recognition and rewards’ into practice? In particular, the exact sciences and medicine have difficulty with this. Isn’t the assessment of researchers too vague and too arbitrary, they wonder. They write open letters or make their voices heard.
ScienceGuide polled more than 300 researchers via a variety of networks. It emerges that confidence in the new form of assessment depends not only on the discipline but also on the place on the academic career ladder.
PhD students seem to be somewhat enthusiastic about recognition and rewards, and associate professors are positive about it too. Postdocs, on the other hand, are sceptical. Many of them have a poor position at the university and are mostly working on a temporary contract: apparently they think that it is not likely to make things any better.
In general, full professors also prefer the current situation. They have reached the top, so they climbed the mountain under the old system. They seem to have less faith in the new approach.
Representative or not?
The random survey is not entirely representative, according to ScienceGuide; for instance, too few lawyers responded and too few researchers from the ‘agriculture’ sector. The journalists did, however, obtain advice from a full professor of Statistics.