Good practice - Young Science in Transition

People on different steps

For many years Annemijn Algra has been arguing for more professional diversity among doctors. This is how she came into contact with Science in Transition (SiT), a think tank founded in 2013 with the aim of shifting the focus in the evaluation of professors at UMC Utrecht from number of publications to social relevance.

Background Young Science in Transition
SiT wanted to involve more young people, which led to the creation of Young SiT in 2018. Young SiT's goal is to contribute to a shift in science with concrete projects - bottom up. "Young SiT is driven by intrinsic motivation. We see from the workplace where improvement is needed, and want here and the will to realize change with concrete manageable actions," said Annemijn.

Good Practice (PhD compentence model)
Young SiT has developed a new evaluation form external linkto focus on professional growth rather than quantitative output in the evaluation of PhD students. The new evaluation method allows PhD students to decide which accomplishments they want to emphasize in their evaluation. Furthermore, the PhD student can now prepare their annual evaluation with an external supervisor and, thanks to Young SiT, a preparatory interview with the external supervisor takes place first before the annual evaluation. The PhD Competence Model external link is used here; a model that allows PhD students to reflect on their professional development in various competencies. The results of this self-reflection tool and the conversation with the external supervisor can then be used as a conversation starter during the annual evaluation with the PhD students.

Staff and leadership experiences:
One year after implementing the new evaluation method in one of the Graduate School of Life Sciences' PhD programs, Young SiT conducted a small evaluation. PhD students and external supervisors find the conversations in this new way refreshing. The conversation has more substantive depth. By asking for feedback from the users of the form, Young SiT is learning as they go. Through the evaluation, for example, they also found out that the PhD Competence Model was outdated, and thus gave it an update (see InSci.nl external link).

Tips for other faculty
The first step is to create awareness about the fact that things can and should be done differently and to create consensus about how to achieve this. Furthermore, it is very important to introduce new initiatives in a pilot environment, test it with the people who will use it, and then gradually update it in a low-threshold manner. Therein lies the tension for the academy: scientists often first want to see proof that something works. Cross-pollination is also essential. There is a danger that everyone on their own island will explore different Recognition and Rewards, while we all want the same thing. Finally, young academics must also be involved in the process. Often young academics think their influence is small. They want to participate, but also find this tensive because they are at the beginning of their careers. According to Annemijn, this is now gradually changing. If a lot of people stand for something together, you can indeed have a lot of impact.