June 29, 2020

The Netherlands develops new ways of recognition and rewards for academics

At Maastricht University and all other academic institutions in the Netherlands, an initiative has been launched to change the way academics are recognized and rewarded. This initiative has been launched under the leadership of Maastricht University’s Rector Magnificus Prof. Dr. Rianne Letschert, together with her counterpart at Eindhoven University of Technology.

Prof. Rianne Letschert, Rector of Maastricht University. Photo by Harry Heuts.

The idea behind this new approach is that an academic can be successful in many areas, but not all successes are recognised and rewarded equally. Research performance, particularly expressed in quantitative measures such as research output and acquired grants, has predominantly determined the career path of academics for many years. This has led to the undervaluing of other key domains that are vital to the success of academic institutions. The overemphasis on research often limits the ambitions that exist in these other domains, for academics as well as for institutions. To balance out the scales, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way that academic talent is recognised and rewarded in all key domains: research, education, impact, leadership and patient care (for university medical centres).  

Because it is unrealistic for every academic to excel in every domain, there is also a need to allow for diversity in career paths within the assessment system. Academics should have more freedom to develop a clear profile in one or more key domains, in combinations that may change over the course of a career. Also, there is growing acknowledgement of the fact that scientific and educational achievement involves a collective effort and should be better recognised as such. Furthermore, the developments of Open Access and Open Science also place different demands on modern scientists, which are currently not explicitly valued.

Fostering academic talent requires good leadership. And because of the false assumption that those who excel in their research will automatically be a good leader, academics are often thrust into leadership positions without getting a significant amount of training or guidance—if any. Academic institutions need to invest in developing and rewarding good leadership so that your academic leaders are fit for their task. 

Open Access and Open Science play an important role in this new way of recognizing and rewarding academics. Their contributions to society become much more visible and they bridge the gap between the academic world and society. Therefore, at Maastricht University and in Dutch higher education as a whole, academics are strongly encouraged to share their knowledge and findings with others. The recognition and rewarding initiative fits very well into actions working towards 100% open access of research output and acting FAIR in research data management. UM looks forward to share its vision and benchmark (national) activities via the YERUN Open Science Working Group. 

For further questions regarding UM’s activities in the field of Open Science, please contact Ms. Ingrid Wijk, Director of the UM University Library and member of the YERUN Working Group on Open Science: i.wijk@maastrichtuniversity.nl

For further questions regarding UM’s participation in the YERUN network, please contact Mr. Jan Hupkens, policy advisor internationalisation and UM YERUN Coordinator: jan.hupkens@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Read more: https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/research/open-science/recognition-rewards

Cover photo by Arjen Schmitz

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