Career Assessment

The seminar was organized by the Council of Rectors of Portuguese (CRUP) and Spanish universities (CRUE). It took place on Friday, July 3, 2020. The opening was made by the Rector of the Universidade do Minho (representing CRUP) and the Rector of the Universidat Politècnica de València (representing CRUE). Both stressed that the evaluation of the career of scientists is a critical point in the process of transition to Open Science, and that it is highly appropriate to address it.

The keynote presentation entitled “Room for everyone’s talent: towards a new balance in the recognitions and rewards of academics” was given by Rianne Letschert (Rector Maastricht University). She explained the process of change in academic career evaluation that Dutch system are developing. In 2019 public universities and other scientific institutions published a position paper, which I will return to later.

The second part dealt with Research Assessment in Europe, with the presentation of two specialists in Open Science. In the third part, the topic was Is Open Science challenging career evaluation in the Iberian universities? The exhibitions were in charge of authorities from Spanish and Portuguese universities and ANECA.

The final synthesis and the closing were in charge of Eva Méndez. The seminar was extremely interesting, since the discussion around the academic career’s evaluation is strongly present in the Latin American context, where I belong. In our southern countries, an important part of the academic community fails to fit into the evaluation model based on outputs, specifically on publication counts. In particular, scientists from the Humanities and Social Sciences maintain that the evaluation system does not consider the characteristics of these areas: they usually address topics of local interest and communicate their research in various types of documents (often in local languages), and they do not usually publish articles in English in journals indexed in WOS or Scopus. There is a contradiction, the University encourages researchers to make contact with society and build relevant knowledge to solve social problems, but at the time of evaluation, this effort is not so highly valued, unless it ends in an article published in a mainstream journal.

In this sense, the objection to the traditional evaluation model that Rianne exposed and the alternatives proposed were extremely valuable to me to think about the Latin American reality. She said: «There is a big gap in what we reward and what we aim for». The rewards focus on the domain of research (number of papers, grants) but our academics do more than that: they are teachers, they lead teams, they train human resources, their jobs impact society.

Rianne Letschert, president of the University of Maastricht, presented the «formula for success» through a position paper named «Room for everyone’s talent; towards a new balance in the recognition and rewards of academics», as result of the work of the 14 Dutch universities and the country’s main research institutions.

Rainne explained that changes need to be made: “1 Enable diversification and vitalization of career path, thereby promoting excellence in each of the key areas (education, research, impact, leadership and patient care). 2 A better balance between individual and team performance. 3 More focus on quality of work over quantitative results. 4 More emphasis on the value of academic leadership. 5 Open Science becomes the norm and stimulates interaction between scientists and society”

Open Science (OS) is considered a fundamental step in the scientific system designed in the Netherlands, it is not a peak to be reached but a collective construction that must be stimulated through different forms: open methodologies, open Access publishings, open educational resources, open software , citizen science, open data, among others. Recognition and reward mechanisms must support OS on three levels: human resources policy, research funding, and quality assessment of research. In fact, they have included aspects of OS in the evaluation protocol of all academic units. This position paper signed by 40 rectors is not imperative, it is a definition that must be implemented and it will not be immediate because OS requires a cultural change that is a change of beliefs. OS requires agreements, dialogue in the academic community, showing and sharing good practices, that everyone understands what it is and what its benefits are. It must be inspiring for new generations.

The presentation on the Dutch approach contributed a lot because it presents the Dutch case in detail, addressing the context, the ideas that support the proposal, the rationale and also provides concrete examples of implementation. Uruguay, my country, is still far from a proposal like this, the national academic community is timidly approaching the ideas of the Open Access movement. In recent years, some repositories have been implemented and the issue has been brought to the table. The authorities of the Universidad de la República (the main scientific institution in the country) have taken up the topic of Open Access and have organized a series of activities with the academic community last year. It is a start but there is a long way to go, Open Science involves much more than Open Access as was explained in the Seminar. Good practices and successful experiences offer elements to start thinking and discussing Open Science with colleagues in Uruguay. The Open Science paradigm should be inspiring for the scientific community, it is based on the idea of opening research (methods, data, etc.) for the benefit of society, it is based on the culture of collaboration and sharing scientific knowledge without barriers. For us it is a great challenge.

#IamAnOpenScientistBecause… I share my research data and publish in OA journals. I’m concerned about the social value of knowledge, and I promote Open Science among my colleagues

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