The Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy

Stop blaming external factors: A historical-sociological argument

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With this commentary we respond to Olof Hallonsten’s recent plea to stop evaluating science. In particular, we challenge two central premises of Hallonsten’s argument, regarding both the scope of his argument and the claim that ‘exogenous’ metric evaluation of science on its own explains failures of the current scientific enterprise to produce certified knowledge. Even though we acknowledge that ‘external’ evaluation mechanisms of science likely amplify problematic practices within science, they do not suffice to explain the crisis situation sketched out by Hallonsten and others. Instead, we make a plea to the academic community to introspect on its own practices. We argue that, to an overwhelmingly degree, these research practices shape the reward and quality assurance system of science. Discussing the formal and informal quality assurance mechanisms of science, we conclude that the apparent crisis in science is cultural and organizational, deeply internally rooted, and inseparable from researchers’ daily practices and personal responsibility. Most importantly, this concerns the central role of the academic community in controlling and evaluating how science is practiced, how merit is defined, and how decisions of promotion and rewards are made.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Science Information
Volume60
Issue3
Pages (from-to)329-337
ISSN0539-0184
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

    Research areas

  • external evaluation, peer review, quality assurance, research practices, reward system, scientific community

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