Evaluating how we evaluate

Mol Biol Cell. 2012 Sep;23(17):3285-9. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E12-06-0490.


Evaluation of scientific work underlies the process of career advancement in academic science, with publications being a fundamental metric. Many aspects of the evaluation process for grants and promotions are deeply ingrained in institutions and funding agencies and have been altered very little in the past several decades, despite substantial changes that have taken place in the scientific work force, the funding landscape, and the way that science is being conducted. This article examines how scientific productivity is being evaluated, what it is rewarding, where it falls short, and why richer information than a standard curriculum vitae/biosketch might provide a more accurate picture of scientific and educational contributions. The article also explores how the evaluation process exerts a profound influence on many aspects of the scientific enterprise, including the training of new scientists, the way in which grant resources are distributed, the manner in which new knowledge is published, and the culture of science itself.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • Career Mobility
  • Education, Graduate
  • Peer Review, Research*
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • Publishing
  • Research Support as Topic
  • Science