Changing the game: on the assessment of researchers and their research

Dutch Recognition and Rewards in a European perspective

Yesterday (March 18) a consultation meeting of research performing organisations took place. The European Committee Research & Innovation organised this meeting. Several European research funders focused on the assessment of researchers and research teams. Jeroen Geurts, chair of ZonMw and ambassador for the Dutch initiative Recognition and Rewards, was there to represent the Dutch perspective.

Jeroen Geurts started his contribution to the round table discussion with a short statement in which he highlighted the position paper Room for everyone’s talent: towards a new balance in the recognition and rewards for academics and gave some examples of activities to assess researchers not only on their research but also on education, a balance between individual and team science, leadership and clinical research. Examples were among other things the introduction of a narrative CV in the funding scheme ‘Talent programme’ of NWO and ZonMw, a national report about professionalising data stewardship by setting out guidelines for competences, training and education, and to make Open Science (open access and FAIR data) a standard item to be addressed in calls and application forms.

Jeroen Geurts: “Reasons for success in the Dutch Rewards & Recognition process were the early build of a strong coalition of RPOs and funders and a subsequent bottom-up process that enabled thorough, local implementation of the changes proposed. This way, we could change not only the rules, but the entire game.”

More information

A recap of the Recognition & Rewards Festival


On January 22nd, The Recognition & Rewards Festival took place. Together with almost 300 participants, we took a dive into cultural change and shared thoughts and ideas with each other regarding the recognition and rewards system in academics. From plenary discussions about the similarities between diplomacy and science with regard to culture change and the biggest concerns for young academics, to workshops where questions were elaborated and talked about in smaller groups. A successful day filled with exchanging knowledge, ideas and different viewpoints.    

The recordings and the presentation slides can be found here.

Plenary discussions

The day was opened with Kim Huijpen interviewing Jeroen Geurts and Rianne Letschert. They talked about the most important steps taken after publishing the position paper Room for everyone’s talent in November 2019. They emphasized the importance of diversity in academic profiles. Research and education remain important aspects in academic careers, but they also highlight the fact that we must create room for people to diversify their career paths. After this opening, we continued with an interview that focused on cultural change.

Paul Boselie had the honour to interview Reina Buijs, Director of the HRM department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this conversation, an interesting parallel between academia and civil servants was highlighted. They touched upon important aspects within a change process in both academia and diplomacy, aspects such as good leadership, training, learning by doing and coaching. After this interview we changed the setting to a round table conversation.

The round table conversation was held between several young academics as well as with Rianne Letschert and Jeroen Geurts. During this conversation, the urgence of a new system of recognizing and rewarding academics was emphasized again. The young academics talked about the meaning of this for early career academics and how young academics see a future with more diverse career perspectives. It was very interesting to discuss and hear the views and experiences of the ‘next generation’.


After the substantive plenary sessions in the morning, a much-deserved break was up next. Participants got the opportunity to talk to each other, visit a video booth or enter into a ‘speeddate carousel’. And of course, were encouraged to have some lunch or go for a walk outside. After this break, where energy was recharged, the participants continued the programme by attending several different workshops. The workshops allowed the participants the opportunity to dive into different questions that were posed in the morning on a deeper level. 

The workshop ‘Open Science’ was given by Jeroen Sondervan (UU) and Sander Bosch (VU). In this workshop they discussed the link between open science and recognizing and rewarding. And more specifically, which aspects of open science need to be recognised and rewarded within research and education. With the help of online tools like Miro this led to interesting debates and new ideas. Interesting to see was that there were more suggestions about the recognition and reward system for research than for education.

Another workshop, ‘Challenges for UMC’ touched upon subjects regarding the three core tasks of UMC – research, education and healthcare. An inspiring discussion took place about the combination of those three and the importance of recognition and reward with regard to the core tasks.

The workshop ‘Change approach Recognition & Rewards’ dove into the change approach of the program recognition and rewards. The participants talked about how to make sure the changes that are thought of, actually make a positive difference. And when is the program a success? Food for thought!

Another workshop was an ‘Introduction to- and dialogue about Recognition & Rewards’. Elke van Cassel gave an introduction about the program and specifically talked about the position paper and how it is implemented at Tilburg University. After this, two discussions were held about the importance of young academics in this program and including science communication in a new version on recognition and rewards.


To wrap up the day, Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, gave her final words. She talked about the most important dilemma’s and questions that were discussed and matched the spirit of the day perfectly: “Recognition and Rewards is all about team effort, working on this culture change is a team effort”.

We are happy to notice that we are not the only ones writing about the festival! Please also read the other blogs and reports.



Europe’s Universities 2030

EUA’s vision for the future

EUA has developed its vision for Europe’s universities in 2030. After intensive consultations with more than 100 experts and visionaries from the EUA membership and a wide range of external partners, the EUA Council, adopted “Universities without walls – A vision for 2030” on 29 January 2021.

We are happy to see that EUA has included reforming academic careers in their vision for the coming decade, meaning that hundreds of universities will share our ambitions.

You can find the EUA vision here. Please read down below a passage from the document.

This vision for Europe’s universities in 2030 requires a reform of academic careers. This should be acknowledged and supported by all stakeholders through the following actions:

  • Using a broader set of evaluation practices for academic careers, which include a wide definition of impact, beyond traditional bibliometric indicators;
  • promoting further parity of esteem between different career paths, including parity of esteem between research and teaching;
  • enabling and valorising Open Science in career and research assessment;
  • incentivising activities with different forms of impact, including innovation or citizen science, dissemination, supervision and mentoring, while retaining the core goal of research activities, which is the expansion of human knowledge;
  • making academic careers less precarious and more attractive as life choices in order to develop and retain talent;
  • providing more flexibility for academic careers. It must be easier to switch jobs between academia and other sectors, such as start-ups, industry or public administration. Researchers with job experience outside academia must have access to university careers

National website for Recognition & Rewards programme

The Recognition and Rewards programme now has a central website with information regarding the national programme: On the website stories will be shared. Stakeholders will share their opinions and experiences. Also ‘practices’ will be displayed; These are examples of (sub)projects of the organisations participating in the programme. These practices demonstrate the steps taken in the process of culture change their organisations. On the website, all initiatives and developments are brought together. In this way the common movement will be emphasized and utilised. While the program itself is still in full development and movement, the website is of course too. The website will grow in the coming period by adding new stories and practices.

The Recognition & Rewards Programme

The Recognition and Rewards programme is a cooperation between VSNU, KNAW, NFU, NWO, ZonMW and the Dutch universities, focused on a different approach of recognising and rewarding science and scientist. In the Netherlands, we provide academic education and do academic research at the highest possible level. The academic community contributes to social and multidisciplinary issues by studying these issues and trying to find answers. Issues of today, tomorrow and the days to come. These issues demand more cooperation and a multidisciplinary approach to ensure scientific practice and impact, accompanied by a good practice of recognition and rewards. Putting into practice the shared ambitions in Dutch academia requires a modernisation of the system of recognition and rewards. These ambitions demand a substantial culture change and cooperation. The modernisation should be designed to improve the quality of each of the key areas: education, research, impact, leadership and (for university medical centres) patient care. We want to make room for everyone’s talent in Dutch academia.

Recognition & Rewards Festival

On January 22nd, the Recognition & Rewards Festival will take place. All participants of the Dutch Recognition & Rewards programme will come together, along with other interested parties. During the festival we take a deep dive into culture change. We discuss the status of the programme a year after launching our position paper: Room for Everyone’s talent. Furthermore, in the various workshops we focus on specific elements of the programme.

The Festival will be from 10.00 A.M. to 4.00 P.M, more information and a registration form can be found on: