Análisis de las dinámicas de producción de conocimiento científico bajo el sistema de evaluación de la calidad de la Educación Superior y la Ciencia

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2021
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17-02-2021
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Abstract
The Research Evaluation System has acquired over the last four decades an important weight in the management and organisation of science policy in Spain. This system has become a new tool for university institutions to justify the distribution of the funds invested in them, has made it possible to objectify the scientific and academic performance of both individuals and organizations, and has established new requirements for accessing and promoting inside the system. In this context, so present in the debate on the organisation and management of the institution at a formal and informal level, there is interest in exploring in depth how the evaluation processes are perceived from within and their implications for the development of scientific production. This doctoral thesis aims to explore the impact of the institutionalisation of the Research Evaluation System on research practices and, specifically, on the creation of scientific knowledge. To this end, it seeks to explore and deepen the working methods and epistemic practices of three disciplines (History, Chemistry and Business) in order to discern whether evaluation is affecting their scientific knowledge production practices differently. In order to study this phenomenon, Richard Whitley's (2000, 20007) theoretical framework has been used, which provides the basis for analysing assessment systems and the consequences of their implementation in specific contexts. On a methodological level, 77 in-depth interviews have been carried out in 6 Spanish university departments in the three areas of knowledge mentioned. Likewise, two Social Network Analysis techniques were used as complementary methods for collecting and analysing the information. The study of the evaluation systems and their possible effects has been carried out using two units of analysis: one collective, the university departments; and the other individual, the members of these departments. In this sense, at a departmental level, the results suggest that the institutionalisation of evaluation has affected university departments which, to a greater or lesser extent, have adapted their forms of organisation and strategies in order to achieve the highest quality in carrying out research activities at a collective and individual level. However, it does not seem to be leading to organisational standardisation. The departments develop different organisational strategies, especially in human resources management and in the management and distribution of economic resources. At the individual level, the analysis of the data suggests that academics are orienting their careers by focusing on the achievement of assessment objectives because of the pressure that assessment puts on them. The results point to an increase in pressure for scientific publication and a reduction in the time available and the process of reflection. In this line, the results point to a reduction in pluralism and intellectual diversity. In the case of History, this reduction in pluralism is also reflected in a moderate shift from research focused on more local issues to more transnational ones. The risk in the selection of topics and different methodologies is an issue that academic staff have claimed to take into account when doing research, especially in Chemistry and Business. On the other hand, the results of our study do not show sufficient evidence to affirm that the way in which the production of knowledge is organised is changing. The results point to a certain tendency towards individualism, but this does not correspond to a majority discourse and depends on certain disciplines and moments in the academic career. Finally, the doctoral thesis points out the positive effect that the evaluation exercises have had on the development of scientific research in the country. Evaluation has contributed to the increase in productivity (measured in terms of scientific publications) in the departments and to a greater awareness of the need to carry out quality research.
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