Accepted Paper:

Science Excellence on the Move  

Authors:

Anne Kovalainen (University of Turku)
Seppo Poutanen (University of Turku)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the national programme of Centres of Excellence in scientific research, this paper outlines the patterns and distribution of the centre of excellence programme in Finland.

Paper long abstract:

The recognition of excellence in science takes many forms in the scientific community, often through epistemic community- based recognition, but also through active peer reviews focusing on the existing institutions and individuals (e.g. Lamont, 2009). However, one specific form of the recognition of excellence is tied to the institutional funding mechanisms of science. The science funding institutions (research councils, innovation and science agencies, national academies) have in alignment with epistemic communities developed funding instruments for the Universities and institutions to reach the international excellence in science. Many of these instruments travel and get copied transnationally and domesticated nationally in slightly differing ways. But how does the recognition of the excellence become settled and defined at the national level when the funding is mainly at stake at the national level? What types of settled performance criteria are being used for different disciplines?

Focusing on the national programme of Centres of Excellence in scientific research, this paper first outlines the patterns and distribution of the centre of excellence programme in Finland. Second, the paper relates to and discusses the empirical data in relation to different disciplinary fields, and the concept of excellence in relation to the intensifying economic discourse, with references to 'return of investment and 'impact'. Overall, the paper suggests that the centre of excellence discourse works around the concept of basic research, which for social sciences may prove to be problematic when set against the criteria of impact of science currently often required from CoEs.

Panel T020
Governing Excellent Science