New ways to value research and scholarship are urgently needed. The increased scale of scientific research and its enhanced role in society have generated the demand to create new forms of information about research in developing research agendas and programmes, and in the assessment of their results. As a result, the role of research metrics has increased dramatically in the last decades. However, many of these metrics are used because they are easily available, not because they are capturing important dimensions of quality or impact of research. This mismatch in many institutional research evaluations needs to be addressed.
Developing the knowledge and tools to overcome current deficiencies in research assessments is the main goal of the new research programme Valuing Science and Scholarship: Meaningful relations between quality, impact and indicators which was published today by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University (CWTS).
The programme notes that research has a variety of missions: to produce knowledge for its own sake; to help define and solve economic and social problems; to create the knowledge base for further technological and social innovation; and to give meaning to actual cultural and social developments. These different missions are strongly interrelated. The work needed to accomplish these missions is not limited to the publication of articles in specialized scientific journals. Yet, articles in high impact journals still figure most prominently in many forms of research assessment and in criteria for research funding and career advancement.
Developing a richer variety of approaches (both quantitative and qualitative) for valuing the sciences (including the social sciences and humanities) is a central goal of the new research programme. Paul Wouters, director of CWTS: "This requires the development of novel forms of review (for example complementing peer review by expert and user-based review) as well as new performance criteria and new science, technology and innovation indicators (for example indicators that take the context and content of research into account). We expect that new forms of "informed review", in which peers and other stakeholders are supported by carefully selected indicators, will be particularly important in the development of more satisfactory research evaluation practices."
Basic research at CWTS will be organized in three research groups: Quantitative Science Studies (led by Ludo Waltman), Science and Evaluation Studies (led by Sarah de Rijcke) and Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (led by Robert Tijssen). In addition, more applied research and teaching will be organized in chairs and working groups. But CWTS will not limit itself to expanding our knowledge about the scientific and scholarly system. Wouters: "We also want to pay special attention to translating our knowledge and also the expertise of our international colleagues to practical knowledge and solutions. We will give priority to three research themes, which are also linked to the Dutch National Science Agenda: Open Science, Responsible Metrics and Research Integrity."
The full text of the research programme is available here.