Zuijderwijk, J. MSc.

Formative effects of new incentives and metrics at the level of biomedical research groups

Centre for Science and Technology Studies,  Leiden University, j.b.zuijderwijk@cwts.leidenuniv.nl

Supervisor: Prof. Paul Wouters and Dr. Sarah de Rijcke


J. Zuijderwijk holds a cum laude masters degree from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in both Cultural & Social Anthropology (MSc, 2014) and Philosophy (MA, 2016) and seeks to combine his background in philosophy of science and cultural anthropology in the qualitative study of scientific practice. Past topics of interest include the development and change of dominant methods and theory in the social study of political movements and resistance.


Research organisations and individual researchers are being pulled in various, sometimes contradictory directions by the changing practices in the communication of scientific results, the multiplication of performance metrics, and new incentives to align with societal needs. In light of this, the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) has started a research collaboration project with one of the University Medical Centres (UMC) in the Netherlands, aimed at exploring national and institutional forms of regulation that emerge from these new metrics and incentives, and the effects of these incentives on research content, researchers’ behaviour, and scientific careers. This UMC is a national front-runner in the integration of research and patient care by implementing concrete new assessment criteria and policy-level actions aimed at improving its impact, and is currently implementing new research governance structures at three levels: the institutional, research group, and individual level. The collaborative project consists of three subprojects which will analyse the formative effects of new incentives and metrics at these three levels.
The PhD project is the second research sub-project in this collaboration, aimed at understanding the effects of changing organisational governance structures on knowledge production at the level of research groups. Concretely, it will analyse how the UMC’s multidisciplinary programs incorporate new research assessment procedures and metrics in actual research projects. Within the multidisciplinary programs, the study will analyse six research groups by following their work throughout the full chain of knowledge production. Through multi-sited ethnographic research the study will follow the entire life cycle of a project in each research group from the beginning (grant application), via data gathering, data management and publications, to the very end of archiving the data. The groups will be selected at random from all current research teams in the strategic programs. Interviews will chart how researchers and stakeholders value the multi-disciplinary program structure, and how new incentives and metrics inform strategic research agendas and collaborative ties.