Dijkgraaf tries to mitigate concerns over recognition and rewards

| HOP, Josefine van Enk

Does the new ideal of recognition and rewards in science damage the Netherlands’ competitive position? Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf thinks it does not: in fact, it gives science a better position internationally.

The minister had already announced that he fully supports a new way of evaluating scientists: recognition and rewards. Publications in prestigious journals are not always the decisive factor. Other factors to consider include whether they are good teachers and managers and whether they are making an impact on society. Whether they practice open science and share their research is another important criterion.

Concerns

The Netherlands might well want to assess the work of scientists differently, but what effect will that have on their competitive position in the international market, the VVD wonders. The party started asking questions following the podcast ‘Is science succumbing to open science?’, in which researcher Hans Clevers, former president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), expresses his concerns over recognition and rewards.   

Dijkgraaf’s answer was that he does not share ‘the concern that the concepts of open science and recognition and rewards will damage the international position’. ‘Indeed, I have observed that the steps taken up to now have enabled the Dutch scientific community to position itself better internationally’, writes the minister, who also used to be president of the KNAW.

Monitoring the situation

It is conceivable that, ‘as in every transition’, it could affect individual scientists in the international field. The minister has ‘not yet seen any sign, however’ that it could affect science as a whole. In Dijkgraaf’s view, the possible effects need to be monitored closely in the time ahead.

The VVD also wants to know how ‘excellence’ is to be fostered in terms of recognition and rewards. The guiding principle is still ‘an outstanding quality of knowledge’, Dijkgraaf asserts. ‘By being alert to the full spectrum of academic work, talented scientists can ensure that their value is recognised, and there will be room for rewarding performance in domains such as education, impact and leadership.’

Dijkgraaf is aware, by and large, of ‘the concerns people have’. But he also believes there are ‘many academics who derive hope from this cultural change’. In his opinion it is of ‘the utmost importance that academics are heard’ and ‘that they themselves have an effect on this cultural change’.