Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Julia Heuritsch

Julia Heuritsch

BGSS Generation 2018



Reflexive Metrics – Reactivity and practices of quantification in research evaluation in Astronomy



The question how to measure and ensure high-quality of knowledge production has become controversial and challenging. Indicators play an essential role in measuring and comparing the output and performance of researchers. They inform and influence how funding is allocated. They are political means, defining categories that are collectively significant in our society. That is how indicators come with constitutive effects (Peter Dahler-Larsen, 2014). Effects of indicator use are constitutive insofar that indicators are not merely representative measures of scientific quality, but they rather shape what is considered to have value in knowledge production (Verran, 2001) and therefore have an effect of research behaviour and content. Many evaluation systems use publication and citation rates to assess the quality of research. It has been argued that this gives rise to the “evaluation gap”, a term coined by Wouters (2017) to acknowledge a discrepancy of what is being measured by indicators and the quality of the scientific content, as perceived by the researchers of the field. The evaluation gap can lead to a number of questionable practices, such as goal displacement, gaming or information overload (Laudel & Gläser, 2014; Rushforth & De Rijcke, 2015).

The proposed PhD aims to evaluate and characterise the evaluation gap and its constitutive effects present in Astronomy, and then assess how they affect knowledge production in this field. Finally, it also aims to propose a series of policies or best practices to reduce or limit any negative effects.