Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Science Studies

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Social Sciences | Science Studies | Research | Evaluation Practices in Science and Higher Education

Evaluation Practices in Science and Higher Education

Senior Researchers: Dr. Anne K. Krüger (BBAW), Prof. Dr. Martin Reinhart

Researchers: Judith Hartstein (DZHW), Dr. Felicitas Heßelmann, Lisa Walther (DZHW)

Running: 2016-2019


Evaluation takes place where highly estimated goods are at stake. In science, the most precious good is scientific quality. Scientific progress has always depended on the assurance of scientific quality that is understood not as external evaluation but as necessarily taking place within the scientific community itself. From the selection of reviewers based on their social trustworthiness in the Royal Society to the current single-, double-, or triple-blind peer review, judging the scientific quality of methods, theories, and empirical discoveries has always been a central mechanism to establish and maintain scientific communities. At the same time, peer review has received a fair share of criticism. Yet, it is still commonly accepted as the gold standard for judging scientific quality.

However, scientific peer review is not as homogenous as debates about its quality might suggest. First, it is applied in a variety of contexts ranging from the selection of journal submissions and funding proposals to selection committees at universities or even online platforms such as ResearchGate, or Google Scholar. Second, even within each of these contexts the peer review process may vary significantly, with respect to the selection of referees, the (technological) infrastructure, metrics, and the regimes of visibility.

Respecting the diversity of evaluation procedures in science and higher education, we ask how scientific quality assurance is understood and practiced in different situations and contexts. With an emphasis on comparative empirical research on evaluation practices in science and higher education, we aim to contribute to current theoretical debates in the sociology of valuation and evaluation.


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