The Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy

Research governance and the dynamics of science: Studying the effects of four different evaluation arrangements on the same research field

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch

  • Mayra M. Tirado, University of Manchester
  • ,
  • Duncan Andrew Thomas
  • Maria Nedeva, Lund Univ, Lund University, Dept Business Adm, Univ Manchester, University of Manchester, Manchester Inst Innovat Res MIoIR, Univ Manchester, University of Manchester, Manchester Inst Innovat Res, Alliance Manchester Business Sch, University of Manchester, Lund University, Lund Univ, Sch Econ & Management, Dept Business Adm, Res Policy Grp
This paper contributes to the understanding and study of research governance effects on scientific fields (Thomas et al 2020; Gläser 2019). It investigates research quality responses of researchers in the same particle physics field, located at similar type universities, to four different performance-based research evaluation arrangements (PREAs). This extends a framework developed to study co-existing quality notions (Langfeldt et al 2020). It considers quality selections by researchers that involve epistemic, research organisation, and organisation career dimensions.

The study views interactions between research governance, such as PREAs, and scientific fields through understanding the science system as connected ‘research spaces’ and ‘research fields’ (Nedeva 2013). This outlines three contexts where governance effects may occur: the research space; the research field; and the research organisation. We posit the research organisation context is where co-existing field or F-type and space or S-type quality notions interact, before only one type is enacted via each organisation level selection event.

We operationalise how local parts of research field knowledge networks are exposed to PREA-related influences. PREA influence is conveyed via selections made within research organisations, informed by quality notions. These selections can be explored, and their cumulative effects considered. This affords insight into how local conditions may generate transformation for a global field.

We use two data sources: 29 interviews with researcher members of local knowledge networks, all working in the same research field, and located in similar research organisations, but based in four locations, each involving a different PREA type; and, desk-based collection and analysis of documentation. Our country cases select for four PREAs: the UK steering PREA, whose results are used to distribute baseline research grants to universities; the Netherlands enabling PREA, whose outcomes inform stakeholders, potentially enabling them to act on performance intelligence; the Sweden locally-enacted PREA, where universities undertake self-evaluation of performance; and the Denmark trickle-down PREA, where field-based committees compose lists of journals that fit quality levels in a national level bibliometric indicator, then used by universities to populate their local profiles to inform state budget allocations (Aagaard 2015). We analytically characterise these four PREAs by their scope and scale, relationship between state and universities, and degree of standardisation of quality judgement.

The research field is chosen because it is highly globalised and has sufficient researchers across differing PREA settings. The field is characterised by its governance arrangements, relative field/organisation authority over resources and their access, research time horizons, and social organisation of field member and infrastructure locations. All research organisations studied here are selected to be the same ‘top-of-the-pile’ type, high prestige universities (Paradeise & Thoenig 2015).

We discuss governance effects across these four different PREA types, underlying the same research field. We analyse researchers’ quality-related selections, as registered using the notions/selections framework. We discuss both the local levels, and aggregate PREA-related governance influence dynamics, as they may influence the field, globally. This, we contend, may arise from accumulated selections across the studied researchers (and beyond). We conclude with suggestions to develop the approach further by studying additional combinations of field type, organisation type, and PREA type case configurations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year6 May 2022
Number of pages2
Publication statusSubmitted - 6 May 2022
EventUnsettling Research Quality - NIFU, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 21 Sep 202222 Sep 2022


WorkshopUnsettling Research Quality

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