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Next Generation Metrics

Ingrid Bauer; David Bohmert; Alexandra Czernecka; Thomas Eichenberger; Juan Garbajosa; Horia Iovu; Yvonne Kinnaird; Ana Carla Madeira; Mads Nygard; Per-Anders Östling; Susanne Räder; Mario Ravera; Per-Eric Thörnström; Kurt De Wit

A group of writers under the guidance of our Task Force Benchmark has written a white paper summarising a methodological debate amongst experts from our Members on ´traditional´ and ´next generation metrics´ for science, education and innovation in the light of the developments and expectations towards greater ´openness´ to realise long-term ecological, economic and social sustainability and benefit to citizens and to the world. 

Universities are expected, and want, to contribute to tackling global challenges. Thereby, they are measuring and are being measured in diverse contexts ranging from (i) institutional planning, monitoring and evaluation, and (ii) external assessment of - some kind of - performance, to (iii) positions in global rankings. The urge to identify key metrics suitable to cover the increasing demands on, and expectations of, universities is considerable and has grown exponentially since the introduction of new public management. Consecutive waves of local, national and European interventions to reform and transform universities and the systems they operate in, and the emergence of global rankings making and breaking reputations put high pressures on universities to collect and process data on what might be called ´traditional indicators´. Recently, the tendency is to promote ´openness´ in science, education and innovation, urging universities to collect data on ´next generation metrics´.

“Next generation, and ultimately progressive metrics, are key to leadership when transforming from purely competition- and reputation-based assessment and rewarding of researchers´ careers towards a culture of quality, trust and risk-taking within universities. I thank the writers for exploring emerging trends and common grounds, and for outlining an inspiring agenda for the development of indicators for university development in the twenty-first century. Together with the recently published white paper Boost the Careers of Early-stage Researchers, this paper helps universities (of science and technology) to advance their assessment and reward systems and take responsibility as employers. At Ghent University, for instance, we have been working with Interdisciplinary Research Consortia; together with our colleagues united in CESAER we look forward to discussing similar measures to make a career as researcher in the European Research Area (ERA) more attractive”, says Rik Van de Walle (President of CESAER).

Rather than providing a collective response from CESAER on the ongoing debate on the usefulness of measurement, assessment and ranking, the white paper arises from the genuine interest of our Members to stay at the forefront of science, education and innovation; to benchmark over time in order to pursue institutional development paths; and - ultimately - to optimise their contributions to society and the world.

David Bohmert (Secretary General) recalls that “This white paper builds upon the longstanding work of our association in the field of institutional research in science and technology, see also our recently published open letter to Times Higher Education with recommendations on how to improve the World University Ranking. Such work is part of the broader collective efforts of our network to proactively and constructively contribute to shaping the future of the ERA.”

For more information and enquiries, please contact our Secretary General David Bohmert.

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