27 February 2019

ICON research reviewed

Research rated very good and excellent at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry

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Utrecht University attaches great value to ensuring the quality of its research is assessed effectively. All research at Utrecht University is therefore periodically assessed by external teams of experts. On November 1 and 2nd, an assessment of ICON took place during a site visit. The report containing the assessment and findings has now been published (pdf).

Three main criteria were considered in the assessment: research quality, relevance to society, and viability. Five out of six ICON research groups scored ‘very good’ on research quality, meaning the research unit conducts very good internationally recognized research. The quality of the Gender Studies group was even rated ‘excellent’, meaning the group is regarded one of the few most influential research groups in the world in its particular field. In terms of societal relevance, three research groups scored ‘very good’ and the societal relevance of the three other groups was found to be excellent, making an outstanding contribution to society.

In addition, the evaluation committee assessed the PhD training programme of ICON to be very strong and considered it exemplary in terms of planning, organisation, monitoring progress and care for students. The committee praises ICON’s ability to attract a diverse range of staff members with different cultural backgrounds, and encourages ICON to further promote a gender balanced staff at all levels. According to the committee, ICON is well aware of the ethical dimension of science and has taken appropriate measures to ensure research integrity and research ethics. They were pleased with the recent developments in supporting researchers with regard to proper data management.

In the coming months, the follow-up of the recommendations will be discussed in more detail. The report includes valuable suggestions to further strengthen the research institute’s strategy towards societal relevance. Furthermore, the evaluation committee’s recognizes the potential of researchers to foster further cooperation within the university’s interdisciplinary research agenda.

The assessments were carried out on the basis of the Standard Evaluation Protocol for Public Research Organisations (SEP). This SEP protocol has been drawn up by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and Dutch universities. In conformity with this protocol Utrecht University ensures that all its research institutes are assessed by external expert assessment committees once every 6 years. This protocol was established in 2003 and has since been tightened.