Anne Slootweg is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
In this PhD project I aim to provide an ethnographic account of how ‘scientific quality’ and ‘societal relevance’ are done in practices of research evaluation at Dutch Universities.
Over the past few decades, practices of monitoring and surveillance have proliferated, in academia and beyond. In assessments at various levels researchers and institutions are increasingly required to show that their research is of sufficient – or rather, ‘excellent’ – ‘scientific quality’. At the same time, there is a growing pressure to show that research has demonstrable ‘relevance to society’, or ‘societal impact’.
Through document analysis, interviews and ethnographic observation, I explore how hegemonic pressures to visualize academic worth play out in specific evaluative moments, and hence contribute to the imagination of science in society. Focusing on the research assessment process in two different disciplines, I am interested in how practices of qualification are at once conditioned by disciplinary norms and material infrastructures, and simultaneously constitutive of new forms of the social and material. Through a reflexive ethnographic exploration of current practices, I hope to help create space and draw out lines for the imagination of alternative forms of ‘accounting’ in and for academic research practice(s).
My study is part of the “Quality and Relevance of Research” project, a cooperation between the CWTS (Leiden) and the EUR. My supervisors are: Willem Schinkel (EUR), Paul Wouters (CWTS), Sarah de Rijcke (CWTS) and Rogier van Reekum (EUR).