Author : Julia Heuritsch
Recent research in the field of reflexive metrics, which analyses the effects of the use of performance indicators on scientific conduct, has studied the emergence and consequences of evaluation gaps in science.
The concept of evaluation gaps captures potential discrepancies between what researchers value about their research, in particular research quality, and what metrics measure. In the language of rational choice theory, an evaluation gap persists if motivational factors arising out of the internal component of an actor’s situation are incongruent with those arising out of the external components.
The aim of this research is therefore to study and compare autonomous and controlled motivations to become an astronomer, to do research in astronomy and to publish scientific papers. This study is based on a comprehensive quantitative survey of academic and non-academic astronomers worldwide with 3509 responses.
By employing verified instruments to measure perceived publication pressure, distributive & procedural justice, overcommitment to work and observation of scientific misconduct, this paper also investigates how these different motivational factors affect research output and behaviour.
I find evidence for an evaluation gap and that controlled motivational factors arising from evaluation procedures based on publication record drives up publication pressure, which, in turn, was found to increase the likelihood of perceived frequency of misbehaviour.