Topic Who and What Fails Credibility of Research Assessment? Reflections on Public Discourse, Expert Knowledge, and Democracy (WG1)

By 24 July 2019
Researcher`s institution:
Host institution: Klaipėda University, Klaipėda (Lithuania)
Period of stsm: Between 2 weeks and 1 month from 1st of September to 31st of October 2019
Funds approved:

Description of the topic: The aim of this STSM is to investigate who and what can lead to a failure of research assessment by analysing the public discourse, the role of expert knowledge, different representations and political aspects of a research assessment. For the last two decades research assessment has been a rapidly developing field of real-life experiments to measure research performance. The quest to find the best models of assessment bases on a discourse of fair decision making or social justice. Yet, a fair distribution of resources/rewards actually means political restructuring of symbolical hierarchies within academic community. Therefore, any assessment exercise is a political and discursive event and it mobilises different interest groups within and beyond academia with different and conflictual interpretations concerning assessment. Such conflicts might be driven by a diverse set of oppositional categories that vary by national and local contexts: management versusscholarship; local versusglobal; established versusdispossessed; Eastern versusWestern; our academic tribe versustheir clan; democratic versusauthoritative etc. In such a situation, success or failure of a specific research assessment procedure mainly depends on the public discourse and its agents.


The STSM will analyse these discourses starting from the example of a new assessment exercise introduced in Lithuania in 2018. It was sued to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania even before it started and serves as a source for a lot of theoretical and methodological issues and questions. How credibility of research assessment might be undermined in social and political terms? How the public discourse is constructed by agents of assessment and its subjects? What categories are used to compose idea of just/unfair assessment? How to analyse communicative and political aspects of research assessment? Practical arrangements of the STSM will cover three activities:

  • An applicant together with the host will construct a theoretical model and research design for analysing communicative and political features of research assessment;
  • The research design will be tested in preparing a short case study about the research assessment in Lithuania;
  • The applicant and the host will compose a list of contradictory cases of research evaluation in Europe for further analysis.


Objectives:This STSM aims to advance the understanding of motivations of the researchers both regarding knowledge production and dissemination in the SSH (Task 1 of WG1). This is a basic task which is important for the contextualization of each deliverable in WG1 (and thus also for writing scientific papers); it is also important for Task 3 of WG1. “Observe national regulations/ recommendations/ procedures for research evaluation in the SSH”, as the acceptance of evaluation procedures is an important point in designing national evaluation procedures; and it will finally be a crucial input for the deliverable “Recommendations for better adapted criteria and indicators” (GP4) as acceptance of evaluation procedures might go hand in hand with the acceptance of criteria and indicators used in those procedures.


Special criteria for this STSM: the applicant has knowledge of the organisation of SSH research, at least in his or her country, and has knowledge in discourse analysis and in social theory.


Results: The proposed STSM will contribute to the understanding of the conditions of acceptance of research evaluation procedures and to the recommendations for better adapted criteria and indicators for SSH research. It will also result in co-authored publications and conference presentations.


Practical details:

Working group: WG1 (conceptual frameworks for SSH research evaluation)

Duration and timing: between 2 weeks and 1 month from 1stof September to 31stof October 2019

Location: Center for Studies of Social Change, Klaipėda University, S. Nėries g. 5, Klaipėda, Klaipėda, Lithuania

Contact: Liutauras Kraniauskas(