Preprint Open Access
Pievatolo Maria Chiara
"The scale and the sword: science, government and research evaluation"
This article has been written in Italian because it is meant for an Italian debate: the
debate on the theoretical and practical justification of the Italian research assessment system,
which entrusts an élite nominated by the government with a huge, unbalanced power. According
to Andrea Bonaccorsi such a system can be legitimized on the basis of his peculiar reading of
R.K. Merton’s normative sociology of science. Our goal, on the other hand, is showing that
the resulting research assessment system would be both practically despotical and theoretically
retrograde even if, at the very moment of the evaluation, the sociological description of the state
of the research were perfectly true and we lived in a faultless Mertonian world. The resulting
system would be despotic, because it would transform an informal ethos into a rigid set of
administrative laws outside the researchers’ control; and it would be retrograde because such a
set would also freeze the evolution of the ways in which scientists publish, discuss and assess
their works, like in kind of castle of the Sleeping beauty.