Survey by Science Guide

Postdocs sceptical about recognition and rewards

University researchers used to be judged mainly on the number of articles published, the journals they published in, and how often other scientists cited them.

Many academics consider it to be too rigid. They find that people should also be able to have a university career if they are good teachers or if they propagate scientific knowledge in the community at large. Leadership, team science and other tasks ought to be recognised as well.

But how do you put a new system of recognition and rewards into practice? That seems particularly difficult for the exact sciences and Medicine. After all, isn’t the assessment of researchers too vague and too arbitrary this way? Scientists from those fields have voiced their concerns through open letters and the like. 

Career ladder
ScienceGuide polled more than 300 researchers through a variety of networks, and it found out that confidence in this new form of assessment depends not only on one's discipline but also on their place on the academic ladder.

PhD students tend to be more enthusiastic about the new recognition and rewards system, as are associate professors. Postdocs, on the other hand, are sceptical. Many of them have a poor position at the university and are mostly working on a temporary contract. Apparently, they think that the new system is not likely to make things any better for them.

In general, full professors also prefer the current situation. They have reached the top, so they climbed the mountain under the old system. They seem to have less faith in the new approach.

Representative or not?
The random survey is not entirely representative, according to ScienceGuide. For instance, too few lawyers and researchers from the ‘agriculture’ sector filled it in. The journalists did, however, obtain advice from a full professor of Statistics.