Science - April 6, 2017

‘NWO, reward researchers for their teaching work’

Roelof Kleis

The Dutch science funding body NWO should take a scientist’s contribution to education into account when evaluating a research proposal, argued personal professor of Soil Biochemistry Jan-Willem van Groenigen last week in his inaugural address.

Because their teaching work is not counted at present, Van Groenigen sees a risk that researchers will neglect this side of their work and see teaching as ‘a waste of time’. Van Groenigen blames this low status of teaching on the evaluation method currently used by the NWO.

The NWO’s system includes a so-called utilization paragraph in which scientists have to demonstrate how their research benefits society. This knowledge valorization counts for 20 percent in the evaluation of the research proposal. But education is not included under knowledge valorization. That is strange, says Van Groenigen. ‘If you ask me, knowledge transfer is a very important form of knowledge valorization. But in the current situation I actually have to advise young scientists to do as little teaching as possible, because then you stand the biggest chance of getting research funding.’

Van Groenigen thinks an excellent and substantial teaching record should also count for 20 percent in the assessment of research proposals.