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Measuring, Assessing, Rewarding. Evaluating an output performance recording system for research and teaching.

Project Management
Duration
2012 - 2013

Measuring, assessing and rewarding performances in academic research and teaching are hotly debated in science policy-making. On one hand, advocates seeking for research to be increasingly measured and steered would inter alia combine arguments of a social contract in science with a scarcity of public resources: publicly financed scientists can only seize legitimacy in politics, society and towards other scientists by proving their relative performance in a well-documented and transparent manner. On the other hand, critics argue that measuring and rewarding research and teaching performance would compromise, and even supplant, the intrinsic motivation of scientists to strive for new knowledge. Giving or taking these arguments, the assessment of research and teaching performances are nothing new. And yet, a novelty stems from the fact that these performances can be rewarded on a material basis: on an institutional level by selective contributions of public funds and on a personal level by paying salary top-ups to scientists.

This project evaluates the performance measuring system in research and teaching (LinF) of the Technical University of Berlin. This entails a survey of the system’s users (professors paid on merit base) and it analyses the consequences triggered by incentive bonus payments for extra performances in research and teaching, with these incentive mechanisms being potentially employed to steer the largely autonomous professorship. Not least, the project offers rich empirical insights into the question of what performance is in the realm of the contemporary university. With this research interest in mind, the question to be asked is whether performance can be adequately represented via technical instruments, and to what extent incentive mechanisms could possibly foster better performances in research and teaching.