The Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy

Carter Walter Bloch

Measuring research excellence in the EU: Rationale, components, and implications

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review

In 2013, the European Union unveiled its new ‘Composite Indicator for Scientific and Technological Research Excellence’, marking a turning point in how excellence is understood and used in European policy. This is not an isolated occurrence; policy-based interest in excellence is growing all over the world. The heightened focus on excellence and in particular, attempts to define it through quantitative indicators can have important implications for research policy and for the conduct of research itself. This paper examines how the European Union’s understanding of excellence has evolved in recent years, from the presentation of the Lisbon strategy in 2000 to the current Europe 2020 strategy. We find a distinct shift in the understanding of excellence and how success in the knowledge-based economy should be achieved: in the early period, excellence is a fuzzy concept, intrinsically embedded in research and researchers and revealed by peer review. In the later period, excellence is more sharply defined and connected with a particular sort of knowledge, that which produces breakthroughs; the result is that policymakers have turned their focus towards directly steering and controlling what is increasingly considered to be the key element for success in the knowledge-based economy. This change is evidenced by the ‘Composite Indicator for Scientific and Technological Research Excellence’, its rationale and its components, and also provides an entry point into viewing the implications of what happens to excellence when we start to measure it this way.
Original languageDanish
Publication year2014
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventECPR 8th General Conference - University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Sep 20146 Sep 2014


ConferenceECPR 8th General Conference
LocationUniversity of Glasgow
CountryUnited Kingdom

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