Science - February 10, 2020

'Tenure trackers could be judged on their full portfolio'

WUR is committed to discussing the current system of assessing scientists and has installed a committee to review the way scientists are recognised and rated. Have suggestions? Part 2: Kevin Matson, Assistant Professor at Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.

‘The tenure track assessment criteria at WUR are meant to be challenging, and they are. But they also should be motivating and achievable. Currently, you must score high in all categories, in ways that can feel unrealistic. In some groups you need to supervise ten PhD students to become personal professor. That is: consistently ten PhDs, on average, during the period leading up to promotion. Why have ten PhDs if that means you don’t have enough time to properly guide them all, given all the other requirements? Having said that, there is some flexibility in the assessments. The assessment committees also look at the quality and quantity of my teaching and my impact. Overall, I think all the elements for a more qualitative assessment are in place in Wageningen, so I hope that WUR will give less attention to the numbers. Tenure trackers could be judged on their full portfolio including qualitative elements, for example support letters from peers. Instead of showing an endless list of publications, candidates could highlight the excellence and impact of a subset.’

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