News - July 4, 2019

Research reward system at odds with WUR mission

Roelof Kleis

Difficult problems require a multidisciplinary approach, but WUR’s reward system is an obstacle to this. That is the conclusion of a study by the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation chair group.


The group’s research report is part of a European study on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), a way of doing research that is designed to solve knotty, complex problems. WUR wants its research to have a global impact, says Auke Pols, one of the study’s authors. ‘That requires a multidisciplinary, inclusive approach to research.’

But that is at odds with the current reward system, says Pols. ‘The system has a narrow focus on publications and securing project funding.’ The researchers therefore recommend additional measures for the tenure track that take account of the value of research to society, alongside citation scores and the scientific impact.

More weight should be given to the value of research to society

The researchers, who based their study on interviews with a large number of WUR employees, make various recommendations for improving the research process. One is a compulsory course in ‘responsible research’ for PhD candidates. WUR should also develop guidelines to help researchers determine which partners and countries they can work with and which not.

The report will be presented at a lunch meeting on Tuesday 9 July in Impulse. Pols and Professor Philip Macnaghten (Technology and International Development) will give more information about the study and Dean of Research Wouter Hendriks will discuss the findings.