What is needed to review the system of recognition and rewards, how can we assess the quality of research and should we reward young academics for their leadership skills? Four high-level experts discuss.

“We have been too narrowly focused on things that can be easily measured. But those things are not necessarily the most important. And vice versa. That is why we should move towards a holistic understanding of the role of the academic of the future and how they can validate to their institutions, to their students and to themselves that they are doing a good job.”

Michael Murphy, President of the European University Association

“Change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s wonderful that we’re now recognising that academic success comes in different flavours, but it will take years to get over the existing implicit biases. We need to keep recognising that there is diversity in what it means to be a successful academic. I also think we should invest in leadership skills of young academics. PhD students are not trained in leadership or mentoring, but we do expect those skills in a future leader. Not investing in and rewarding those skills early on, is counter-productive.”

Mangala Srinivas, President of the Young Academy of Europe

“The momentum for change has really shifted in the past five years. There is a recognition that we need a new system and there is a lot of collaboration between institutions to make this happen. Conversations like those we are having today are happening all around the world right now, and that’s incredibly exciting. I see a significant change, not just in education but also in the support system for academics in their career progression.”

Ruth Graham, Higher Education consultant

“One of the professors in my department asked me whether from now on, we wouldn’t be interested if he published in esteemed journals such as Nature or Science. Of course, we’re still impressed, but we also want to hear your story. Why was it important to you to publish this specific paper in that specific journal? It’s not that ‘journal impact factor’ is now a forbidden term, but it will be part of a bigger conversation. Just counting publications or the number of successfully acquired grants doesn’t tell you much about the quality or the plans of a researcher.”

Jeroen Geurts, President of ZonMw and board member NWO

Recognition & Rewards

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