Evaluation of academics overhauled

New yardstick gives social impact it's rightful place.
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This plan is the result of more than two years of work on a new system of ‘recognition and rewards’. The new system applies to all university researchers and lecturers at Wageningen University and is intended to replace the tenure track and the Education Career Path. See also Measuring Up (page 12).

These systems will be replaced by three career paths for all academic staff: lecturer, researcher or academic on the path towards a personal chair. These three categories are not new in themselves. What is radically different, however, is the uniform framework for assessing staff on these paths. Besides research and teaching, social impact and what are dubbed academic services (admin, peer reviewing, and so on) will be recognized and rewarded from now on.

One-sided incentive

The new framework is the university’s implementation of the national agreement to bring more flexibility and diversity to academic careers, while basing evaluations more on quality and less on quantity. Researchers are currently judged primarily on the number of publications they’ve written and the number of PhD students they supervise. The unbalanced incentive that creates makes for high work pressure, while work that benefits the wider society goes unrewarded.

Social impact and academic services will count too from now on 

For the new evaluation system, 27 indicators have been drawn up for scoring staff. Which score is desirable or required in which area and at which point in one’s career has yet to be determined: guidelines for that are still under development. The new system is scheduled to come into force in September, with a transition period of three years during which evaluation under the current system will still be possible.

The draft Academic Career Framework, as the plan is called, has been approved by the Executive Board. The WUR Council will study the plan in the coming period. Detailed guidelines for evaluation will then be released in May. The plan is the product of a broad committee, led by Dean of Education Arnold Bregt.

Also read the in-depth article with Arnold Bregt and Theo Jetten about the Academic Career Framework.

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