Accepted Paper:

Tales of excellence in an accelerated culture  

Authors:

Carter Bloch (Aarhus University)
Sarah de Rijcke (Leiden University)
Mitchell Young (Charles University in Prague)
Mads P. Sørensen (Aarhus University)
Thomas Franssen (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

The objective of this paper is to examine how breakthrough research accomplishments are created under these accelerated conditions. Through interviews with researchers behind breakthrough results, we will seek to characterize research processes and how the breakthroughs came about.

Paper long abstract:

The conditions under which academic researchers operate have experienced rapid change. Dependence on competitive funding has increased considerably, combined with greater concentration into larger grants (Bloch and Sørensen, 2015). Alongside this, the distribution of institutional block funding is increasingly attached to research performance, often based on quantitative measures (Hicks, 2011). At the same time, the number of PhDs has increased dramatically, resulting in intense competition for both temporary and tenured positions (Fochler et al, 2015).

Arguments have been made that these factors can have important effects on researcher behavior, and on how excellent or breakthrough research is produced (Hammarfelt and de Rijcke, 2014; Hicks et al, 2015; Münch, 2014). However, it is not fully clear how these new conditions for research influence breakthrough research (Heinze et al, 2009; Laudel and Gläser, 2014). In what ways is the actual pursuit of scientific excellence adversely affected? Or is it more of a question of adaptation to the new reality of research? Is breakthrough research generally unaffected by these changed conditions?

The objective of this paper is to examine how breakthrough research accomplishments are created under these accelerated conditions. Through interviews with researchers behind breakthrough results, we will seek to characterize research processes and how the breakthroughs came about. The interviews will in particular focus on potential influences of changed conditions on risk taking, research ambitions and time horizons, and the role of serendipity and the pursuit of unexpected results.

Panel T020
Governing Excellent Science