STRW local: Lunch

Lunch Talks

Insights into the Effects of Indicators on Knowledge Production in Astronomy

This report is the result of a pilot-project for a PhD study. Nine interviews were conducted with astronomers from Leiden University, and a document analysis was performed on relevant institutional (self-) evaluation documents, annual reports, and CVs of the interviewees. The aim was to perform a qualitative study about the relationship between the research behaviour of astronomers and how their science is being evaluated. This study encompassed the funding and publication system as well as the indicators used to measure the scientific output, its quality and the research performance. This report sheds light on how astronomers define high-quality research and how they think that creating knowledge of value is encouraged or hampered by the evaluation processes. We found that astronomers are realists who define scientific quality on the basis of “truth” and are driven by curiosity. This makes up their intrinsic values and motivation to perform Astronomy. Publication pressure, arising from the requirements of “the system”, creates an extrinsic motivation to perform. This results in premature publications, low readability and replicability, risk aversion and a focus on quantity rather than quality. While we observe constitutive effects of indicator use on research behaviour and content, we do not see that the astronomer’s intrinsic values are co-constituted. This gives rise to the “evaluation gap”. Findings on constitutive effects and the evaluation gap in Astronomy lays out the conceptual groundwork for further empirical research and for policy advice on alternative evaluation practices and innovative indicators with the aim of bridging the “evaluation gap”.


Unless announced otherwise, the lunch talks start at 12:30 sharp. The approximate duration of the lunch talk is given above, and additional time will be given for questions and discussion following the presentation. Please make sure that you take ample time to pick up your lunch beforehand.

Information for Speakers and Hosts: Talks by internal speakers are limited to 20 minutes, with additional time for questions. Visiting speakers can have up to 30 minutes, with additional time for questions. Hosts are responsible for bringing the speaker to the correct room in ample time to set up laptops etc., and for ensuring the speaker also has time for lunch.

For questions and/or suggestions concerning the lunch talks, please contact Themiya Nanayakkara () or Alvaro Hacar ()).