Recognition and rewards

Utrecht University presents new vision on Recognition and Rewards

Open science means action. And the way we offer recognition and reward to academics and university staff is key in bringing about the transition that Utrecht University aims for. Over the course of the past year the working group on Recognition and Rewards, part of the Open Science Programme, has reflected and thoroughly debated a novel approach to ensuring that we offer room for everyone’s talent, resulting in a new vision (pdf).


  • Infographic Recognition and rewards
Infographic Recognition and rewards (click for bigger image)
Signing of San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)
Frank Miedema at the signing of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

About Recognition and Rewards

The system of recognition and rewards available is seen by researchers and policy makers alike as the most important in effecting the change towards open science. Transforming the way research and researchers are evaluated and incentivized has proven to be difficult because the evaluation criteria and customs are often engrained in academic cultures. In the current system, researchers and their research are judged by journal impact factors, publisher brands and H-indices, and not by actual quality, real use, real impact and openness characteristics.

Under those circumstances, at best open science practices are seen as posing an additional burden without rewards. At worst, they are seen as actively damaging chances of future funding and promotion & tenure. Early career researchers are perhaps the most dependent on traditional evaluation culture for career progression, a culture held in place by established researchers, as well as by institutional, national and international policies, including funder mandates. 

While Utrecht University needs to take into account the national and international context researchers find themselves in, it can operate at the forefront of developments towards open science. Funders (e.g. Wellcome Trust, Research Councils UK and EU) and other organizations (e.g. VSNU with the Standard Evaluation Protocol) have changed assessment criteria, moving away from simple counting, now requiring narratives and indications of societal impact. Funders are also starting to change their criteria, rewarding not only new research lines but also allocating money for replication studies (e.g. NWO).

A few institutions have already changed their promotion and tenure systems (e.g. UMCU). Other universities changed their code of conduct to include open science practices. Another important example is the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), signed by VSNU and thousands others, including Utrecht University. DORA makes researchers and stakeholders commit to moving away from journal based evaluations, consider all types of output and use various forms of metrics and narrative assessment in parallel. The Leiden Manifesto provides guidance on how to use metrics responsibly. Finally, funders (e.g. ERC and NWO) requiring open access publishing and journals requiring data sharing, also contribute to the uptake of open science practices by researchers.  

Project leaders Recognition and rewards

Recognition and rewards Fellows


The new Recognizing and Rewards vision generates many questions. The working group is open to explaining the vision and collecting suggestions and feedback. View a (non-exhaustive) overview of the presence of (members of) the working group at various meetings.