Thursday, June 25, 2020

Advancing science or advancing careers? Researchers’ opinions on success indicators

Advancing science or advancing careers? Researchers’ opinions on success indicators. Noémie Aubert Bonn, Wim Pinxten. bioRxiv Jun 23 2020.

Abstract: The way in which we assess researchers has been under the radar in the past few years. Critics argue that current research assessments focus on productivity and that they increase unhealthy pressures on scientists. Yet, the precise ways in which assessments should change is still open for debate. We circulated a survey with Flemish researchers to understand how they work, and how they would rate the relevance of specific indicators used in research assessments. We found that most researchers worked far beyond their expected working schedule. We also found that, although they spent most of their time doing research, respondents wished they could dedicate more time to it and less time to other activities such as administrative duties and meetings. When looking at success indicators, we found that indicators related to openness, transparency, quality, and innovation were perceived as highly important in advancing science, but as relatively overlooked in career advancement. Conversely, indicators which denoted of prestige and competition were generally rated as important to career advancement, but irrelevant or even detrimental in advancing science. Open comments from respondents further revealed that, although indicators which indicate openness, transparency, and quality (e.g., publishing open access, publishing negative findings, sharing data, etc.) should ultimately be valued more in research assessments, the resources and support currently in place were insufficient to allow researchers to endorse such practices. In other words, current research assessments are inadequate and ignore practices which are essential in contributing to the advancement of science. Yet, before we change the way in which researchers are being assessed, supporting infrastructures must be put in place to ensure that researchers are able to commit to the activities that may benefit the advancement of science.

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