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New notions of research quality 
Marta Sienkiewicz (Leiden University)
Tjitske Holtrop (CWTS, Leiden University)
Thed van Leeuwen (Leiden University)
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Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This panel seeks to combine academic presentations with an interactive workshop to explore questions around new notions of research quality; their translations into, and reconfigurations of, evaluative practices and standards; and the research practices they make visible and valuable.

Long Abstract:

Research quality assessments influence (symbolic) hierarchies, distribution of resources and career trajectories, with implications for whose and which research can be done. Various reform movements and science policy interventions have been adding new elements to conceptions of quality, and to (e)valuative practices more specifically. New notions of quality such as openness, interdisciplinarity, integrity and societal impact have trickled into research assessments as criteria against which people and ideas are evaluated, into tools aimed to capture them, and as concerns requiring new expertise and tactics from assessors. They change (e)valuative practices and, in turn, the meaning of ‘good research(ers)’.

This panel contains two parts. First, we invite paper contributions bringing an STS lens to the study of quality, specifically of new quality notions, the reform movements that support them and the evaluative situations where they count. How are practices of (e)valuation and (e)valuative decision making changing? What mechanisms (e.g. judgement devices, infrastructures, expertise) do they require, how are these developed and deployed? Do new notions of quality allow for the accumulation of ‘epistemic capital’ (Fochler, 2016; Rushforth et al., 2019) with which to build viable careers?

Furthermore, the panel includes a separate workshop session exploring the notions of quality discussed in the academic papers, engaging both presenters and audience interactively. The workshop will consider what the academic arrangements around new notions of quality in- or exclude (incl. as they institutionalise and potentially standardise) and what evaluative purposes they serve, with a reflection on what it takes to do research accountability well.

The panel aims to enrich our empirical and conceptual understandings and frameworks for studying (research) quality, as well as generate reflections of theoretical and practical significance for STS themes of (e)valuation, standardisation and justification in situated practices of research assessment and evaluative decision making.

Accepted contributions:

Session 1
Session 2