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Netherlands: New future system of academic recognition revealed

Dutch knowledge institutions and funders of research (VSNU, NFU, KNAW, NWO and ZonMw) have proposed a new system of recognition and awards of academics and research. Their ambitions span a wide breadth of the knowledge chain, ranging from fundamental, curiosity-driven questions to application and implementation and back. Moreover, the Dutch academic system is characterised by the strong interconnectedness of education and research, and it is intended to keep it that way.

Many academics feel there is a one-sided emphasis on research performance, frequently leading to the undervaluation of the other areas, which is why a modernisation of the system of recognition and rewards is considered necessary. It would reciprocally improve the quality of education, research, impact, leadership and patient care (in university medical centres). The paper states that the assessment system must be adapted and improved in each of the areas and in the connections between them. The implicit and overly one-sided emphasis on traditional, quantifiable output indicators (e.g., number of publications, h-index and journal impact factor) is one of the causes of a heavy workload, it is said.

The paper calls for a system of recognition and rewards of academics and research that:

  • Enables the diversification and vitalisation of career paths, thereby promoting excellence in each of the key areas;
  • Acknowledges the independence and individual qualities and ambitions of academics as well as recognising team performances;
  • Emphasises quality of work over quantitative results (such as number of publications);
  • Encourages all aspects of open science; and
  • Encourages high-quality academic leadership.

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