Organisation - May 30, 2013

Lower requirements for social scientists

Requirements for tenure track not the same for everyone.
Social scientists do not have to bring in as much funding.

Wageningen social science researchers on the tenure track career system are going to be required to bring in one quarter less funding in research grants than the natural scientists. The social scientist aiming to become a personal professor will soon need to bring in not 2.4 million but 1.8 million euros in research funding. An associate professor will need to have raised about 600,000 euros instead of 800,000. These lowered requirements apply to the Leeu­wenborch and the social science groups at the ESG, including Forest and Nature Policy, Land­scape Architecture and Water Management. The executive board outlined a proposal to this effect to the central employees' council last Wednesday. The employees' council is expected to ratify the plan soon.
Rector magnificus Martin Kropff calls the measures 'fair'. 'Social science research is in a different position regarding acquisition. PhD projects are often smaller in scope than natural science ones, which involve expensive apparatus, laboratories and/or greenhouses. Whereas what really matters is the amount of work you bring in.'
There already were different criteria for publications. Leeuwenborch researchers do not have to have published as many articles to qualify for the next rung on the tenure track ladder, and more weight is given to chapters in books. There is a different publications culture in the social sciences: researchers in these fields work in smaller groups so that the number of authors per article is smaller too.
Education counts more
The lower funding requirement follows a recent evaluation of Tenure Track. The university career policy was introduced in 2009 with the aim of keeping talent in house. Until then researchers with a PhD kept having to be satisfied with a temporary appointment. Now they can expect a personal chair as long as they fulfil stiff progress requirements; high evaluation grades for education, publications in top journals and the acquisition of considerable levels of research funding.
The executive council also intends to let teaching count for more in future. Someone who has obtained a basic teaching qualification or does academic consultancy training can now be on Tenure Track too. 'They are small improvements,' says Kropff. 'Tenure Track is and always will be a tough programme. The system has a very good reputation. We are already seeing its effect: the number of articles in the better journals has increased.'    
 

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