晋升与终身教职评估标准中应包含影响力评估

彼得·图法诺 (Peter Tufano)表示,更多地分享影响力能够让人们更好地理解其晋升与评估的方式。

十一月 18, 2019
a committee
Source: iStock

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许多人指出,社会科学领域的很多学术研究,虽然做得谨慎,却缺乏关联性。虽然各大期刊的新编辑们发表了宣言,鼓励研究人员将交流的范围从圈内扩展到圈外,与政府、企业、民间社会领袖进行交流,但这种改变是缓慢的。

编辑惯例、终身教职评估标准以及社会规范等因素结合起来,导致大多数学者不敢大胆尝试与外界进行交流,也更无法将影响力视为工作的一部分。虽然某些研究成果对实践产生了很大影响,但即便存在常规的学术实践,这种情况依然时有发生;而不是因为存在常规的学术实践,这种情况才发生。

我曾经在一所有名的商学院管理晋升与终身教职评估标准,现在在任职的大学中主持晋升评估活动,因此,我非常赞同这些观点。为了开展进一步的讨论,我想分享一项实验和一个具体的建议,这个建议有一个简单的前提:如果我们想鼓励研究人员进行及时且具有影响力的相关研究,我们首先需要发掘这种研究。然后我们需要去评估这种研究,因为我们珍视所评估的因素。

高校发出的晋升与终身教职评估标准通常包括推荐信、候选人的陈述以及候选人所写的论文和/或书籍。即使有所提及,影响力一般也只出现在候选人陈述的脚注中,类似于: “哦,顺便说一下,美国最高法院引用了我的论文。”作为一项实验,在牛津大学赛德商学院最近的一轮晋升评估中,我们为终身教职候选人发出了新的补充证据。

除了提供常规材料,我们还要求候选人提供一份文件,在文件中列出能够证明其工作对实践产生了影响力的证据,以及该影响力与之后产生的变化有联系的证据。我们要求评估者像评估一篇文章那样来评估这份文件。

评估人员的反应好坏参半。他们似乎很感兴趣,且印象深刻。但他们声称,以前从未有人要求他们审核这类文件,因此不知道以什么样的标准去审核。这些评估者普遍感到困惑。尽管如此,我们依旧坚持对影响力进行评估。现在,我们已经修订了晋升评估标准,允许候选人就其工作的影响力提供证据,作为审核的一部分。

我们有权利允许并鼓励候选人将正式的“影响力证据”纳入终身教职审查材料中。如果是自愿提交,那么候选人不会变得更糟。但如果候选人将实践影响力视为学术成功之路上的一个可行部分,他们就会对这些激励做出回应。

由于期刊编辑们也是评估人员,因此现有期刊,甚至是新期刊,可能会及时为影响力文件开设专门的页面,从而拓宽我们对影响力发生方式的理解。我们还可以鼓励研究人员在标准论文的结论部分阐述其作品的影响,而不是复述高度标准化的研究结论。如何将这一改革扩展开来呢?这项研究成果使实践发生了怎样的变化?

正如我们了解到了优秀的研究是如何通过分享和评审论文来实现的,我们也开始了解到,更多地分享影响力能够让人们更好地理解促进研究的方式,让高级教师和评审人员能够开发脑力,严格评估研究。

在英国,我们已经为提交给研究卓越框架的影响力案例研究提供了这类证据。数据可用来评估整个学术组织,但案例研究代表着个体教师所进行的研究的影响力,因此,采用影响力文件的方式来评估个体教师也是相对较小的一步。

我们的晋升与终身教职评估委员会在本学年重新开展工作,也是时候讨论如何评估我们的年轻同事了。简而言之,我们要打破传统做法的禁锢,促进一种更多元化的卓越观,让影响力成为焦点。

彼得·图法诺是牛津大学赛德商学院的彼得·穆尔斯院长。

后记

Print headline: Give impact more impact

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Reader's comments (5)

It's remarkable how inapropriate the impact agenda is for most of the social sciences and humanities- indeed for research in general- and yet continues to be sanctified in articles like this. In one fell swoop the first sentence makes most of our research irrelevant. What rough pragmatism. We could easily do the same for what comes out of business schools, and perhaps should. This dean could do with reading Kant's Conflict of the Faculties for a start.
With friends like Peter Tufano, universities don't need enemies.
What then is 'relevant'? It's not the definition of science. And impact is absolute nonsense. What seems 'relevant' is often determined by presentist concerns, which in turn might have a present 'impact': so I guess in future, Mr Tufano will be happy to demonstrate his relevance by evidencing the contribution he has made to the national Brexit agenda? Have fun, but don't pretend that this should be relevant to promoting careers (or maybe it will in Unicornia?), or that it has anything at all to do with promoting research or knowledge.
If you want to encourage relevant, timely research that has impact, you need first to do it.
Excellent article. This is absolutely the right thing to do given that it forms an important part of the REF. If a university benefits from higher REF rankings that arise from this particular contribution, it is only fair that academics producing impactful research are rewarded for it. This should not mean however, that every piece of research in every discipline should have impact on practice and/or policy. I am sure Peter's point about relevance was made in the context relevance to practice and/or policy. It also should also not mean that impact should be the only criteria for promotions or that it be made mandatory for promotions. Where there is significant impact, it should be given due consideration and this I think is the thrust of this article. Academic promotions should not be a zero-sum game. Rewarding one person for their contributions should not affect another person's chances of being promoted. One should indeed take a dim view of any academic who would think that just because a piece of research does not have clearly identifiable relevance to current practice or policy, that it is irrelevant. Excellence is indeed multifaceted, academia would do well to accept this.