Accepted Paper:

Professional evaluation of research excellence: case study of the Netherlands  

Author:

Sabrina Petersohn (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper studies how the national evaluation system of public research in the Netherlands developed in the context of science policy and university governance. It puts a specific focus on the use and relevance of bibliometric indicators as a tool for measuring scientific quality and excellence.

Paper long abstract:

This paper studies the evolution of the national system of assessment of public research in the Netherlands in the context of Dutch science policy and university governance. It puts a specific focus on the use and relevance of bibliometric indicators as a tool for measuring scientific quality and excellence in this evaluation practice and relates this to the development of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) as an expert organization and main provider of bibliometric analyses in the context of the Dutch evaluation protocol.

From an experimental use of bibliometric methods during the establishment of evaluation procedures for selected disciplines in the seventies and eighties, bibliometric methods became an optional part of the standardized protocols of the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) at the discretion of the disciplinary committees in the nineties. Currently they remain a voluntary indicator for demonstrating scientific quality in the Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP) if deemed necessary by the research unit or university boards. The declining relevance of bibliometrics at the national assessments is compensated by their growing role in annual administrative-managerial routines at universities.

The study employs document analyses, a detailed literature review and expert interviews to determine the share of bibliometric analyses in VSNU and SEP evaluation reports from 1993 to 2014 and to investigate motivations for using bibliometrics.

The paper contributes to an understanding how the partial definition of excellence through bibliometric indicators is transformed from a national, disciplinary matter into a problem of technical decisions at the university management level.

Panel T020
Governing Excellent Science