PhD candidate Reconfiguring Research Quality

The Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a

PhD candidate Reconfiguring Research Quality (1,0FTE)

The past decade has seen the explosion of science reform movements, whose aim is to change practices of research evaluation and in doing so, generate more useful, just, and sustainable scientific research and career systems. Initiatives like the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) have campaigned against overreliance on narrow metrics of research quality and impact such as the Journal Impact Factor when appointing researchers or funding research proposals. Recently, the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment Reform (CoARA) has emerged as an important trans-national initiative, seeking to mobilize universities and other organizations to change how they recognize and reward research achievements within appointment and funding proposal assessments. The Netherlands, meanwhile, is currently a hotbed of activity and engagement in reform efforts, most notably, through its national program Recognition and Rewards. Our own organization, Leiden University has begun to transition towards reform of its research assessment practices and career system, via its Academia in Motion program. A theme that cuts across all these initiatives is a dissatisfaction with narrow quality criteria influencing assessment outcomes, and a desire to broaden what counts as research quality, to include, for instance, openness, inclusivity, integrity, team science, and academic service. 

Our institute, the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University, has long been known as a centre of expertise on research evaluation, and we are currently engaging with the growing research assessment reform movement in multiple ways: through seeking to understand and study its change efforts; through participating and engaging in change efforts directly; and through seeking to improve our own internal evaluation practices. In order to strengthen our portfolio of research on research assessment reform, CWTS is recruiting a PhD candidate. The appointed person will perform original, theoretically-informed, empirical social science research on the construction and institutionalization of new understandings of research quality that are emerging in science, and being promoted by assessment reform movements.  

Are you interested in studying this reform movement and its consequences for how research quality is understood and practiced in science? Then we are looking forward to meeting you! We are looking for a PhD candidate with strong theoretical skills in social science, and qualitative and/or quantitative research skills. You will work in the Evaluation and Culture Focal Area of CWTS, where you will join a vibrant community of science studies researchers interested and engaged in research assessment reform activities.

Job description    
We have a job opening for a PhD candidate in the Focal Area Evaluation and Culture. Under supervision of senior colleagues at CWTS, the PhD candidate will design and work on a research project focused on studying the rise of new reform movements in science and their attempts to broaden the forms of research quality for which academic organizations and individuals are recognized and rewarded. Besides the need to reward original and impactful contributions to shared problems within specialized knowledge communities, research assessment reform champions argue that often marginalized qualities such as openness, inclusivity, integrity, team science, and academic service ought to play more of a role in shaping career assessment, project proposal selections, and resource allocation decisions. How efforts to institutionalize these research quality notions and reform research assessment play out in practice, is the overarching puzzle to which the PhD project will contribute. 

The successful candidate will be invited to develop their own project ideas within the context of research quality linked to assessment reforms. The PhD candidate will carry out their research independently, under supervision of senior staff at CWTS with direct research expertise on the topic. They will also be part of a lively community of science studies researchers at CWTS actively interested in research assessment reforms. 

Please note, later in the recruitment process, we will invite shortlisted candidates to submit a short written 800 word proposal for the PhD project on a topic related to research assessment reform. For further in-depth description of the PhD project parameters and the profile of candidate we are looking for, please see: Extended Project Description - Qualities PhD.pdf

Key responsibilities    

Selection criteria
The successful candidate has:

About the faculty
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences consists of five institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The faculty has approximately 7,000 students and 1,025 employees. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences brings together high-quality research and outstanding teaching as well as in multidisciplinary approaches. Please, visit the faculty’s website for more information.

The Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) is an interdisciplinary research institute at Leiden University that studies scientific research and its connections to technology, innovation, and society. Studies at CWTS range across the broad field of science, technology and innovation studies. Our staff have developed a special focus on research evaluation, research management, and science policy. Among the fields that significantly contribute to the core activities of the institute are science and technology studies, library and information science, computer science, sociology, anthropology, and economics.

Terms and conditions
We offer a temporary full-time position, initially for one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the PhD project, personal capabilities, and compatibility, the appointment will be extended with three more years. Salary ranges from €2.541 to €3.247 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at

All our PhD candidates are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training, and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school. Optionally, PhD candidates can join the Netherlands Graduate Research School of Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC) Our PhD community at CWTS consists of a diverse population of approximately 30 PhD candidates. To enjoy the best of life as a CWTS PhD candidate you will be supported by onboarding activities (including a buddy), activities organized by our PhD council and meetings with our PhD coordinator. 

University employees need to be based in The Netherlands. A Dutch home address and Dutch bank account are required to close the employment contract.    

Diversity and inclusion    
Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.    

General enquiries about the position can be made to Petra van der Weel, coordinator of CWTS office,
For enquiries about the intellectual scope of the project contact Alex Rushforth, Assistant Professor, CWTS 

Please use the blue button to submit your application and upload a letter of motivation (max 2 pages) and a CV. You can apply until 27 February 2024. Applications sent by email or submitted after the deadline will not be considered. Based on the uploaded documents, we will make a selection of candidates and invite them for an initial interview. Based on the first interview round, the most suitable candidates will be invited to a second interview. Prior to the second round interviews, invited candidates will be asked to send a project proposal outline (no more than 800 words, excluding references). 

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

Published: 02/09/2024