Topic CARES (Careers and Research Evaluation Systems for societal impact) 3 (WG2)

By 7 January 2019
Researcher`s institution:
Host institution: CWTS, University of Leiden, the Netherlands.
Period of stsm:
Funds approved:

CARES is a newly developed ENRESSH initiative focused on Early Career Investigators ( approx. <8 years from PhD completion) and how they deal with societal impact. The purpose of CARES is to develop fair and improved routes for developing societal impact during the first years of the scientific career of social sciences and humanities’ researchers.  In 2018, there has been a substantive data gathering exercise on how early career researchers respond to the challenges raised by impact in their career development, and the purpose of these STSMs is to advance our knowledge by analysing this data along one of more of the following themes:

  • Hierarchies, disciplinary norms and power in academia: impact as emancipation or tension?
  • Incentives for impact creation: formal and informal steering by evaluation systems
  • The consequences of impact evaluation for ESIs’ motivations or identities
  • The diversity of impact evaluation and academic careers: accounting for local context

Description of the topic:

The creation of societal impact from research activities is an increasingly important component of what is considered to be good science, and increasing emphasis is being placed in scientific training upon encouraging early career investigators to be more positively oriented towards impact generation.  But at the same time ECIs are subject to a wide range of pressures that may serve to undermine the value of impact to them as they develop their careers. This may come through a focus on very limited kinds of impacts such as creation of spin-off companies or patents, institutional or systemic progression mechanisms in which impact is invisible with reference to teaching and research, or simply the absence of time to create meaningful impacts.  Better equipping ECIs to create impact requires as much addressing these structural pressures as in fine-tuning impact evaluations, and this STSM will participate in a pilot study seeking to identify the top level dimensions of contextual issues for ECIs seeking to create impact generation.


Objectives: This STSM aims to advance the understanding of the contextual conditions of SSH societal impact creation (Task 1 of WG2) as well as to the work of the focus groups within the ENRESSH Special Interest Group for Early Career Investigators (SIG ECI).  WG2 and SIG ECI collectively seek to mobilise a debate on the structural conditions of ECIs in SSH and the creation of societal impact, and this STSM is a first step towards identifying the structural barriers that ECIs face in creating societal impact.  This STSM builds on WG activities in Ljubljana (July 2018) and Vienna (November 2018). In practical terms, the STSM will analyse a pilot questionnaire completed by a sample of ECIs in Autumn 2018 to produce a report focusing on one or more of the analytic dimensions highlighted above.

Special criteria for this STSM: the applicant has knowledge of the theories, practices and policies for the stimulation of societal impact from SSH research activities. The applicant must also have knowledge of academic careers and science systems or be willing to learn that skill

Results:  The proposed STSM will provide an empirical analysis to deepen the initial findings on impacts and career development emerging the focus groups within SIG ECI.  This will result in co-authored publications between the host, STSM candidate and other members of the CARES initiative working on that analytic dimension.

Practical details:

Working group: WG2 (Societal Impact of SSH Research)

Duration and timing: between 2 weeks and 2 months, Jan-Feb 2019

Location: CWTS, University of Leiden, the Netherlands.

Contact: Thed van Leeuwen