Responsible Research Assessment Should Prioritize Theory Development and Testing Over Ticking Open Science Boxes


  • Hannah Dames University of Zurich
  • Philipp Musfeld University of Zurich
  • Vencislav Popov University of Zurich
  • Klaus Oberauer University of Zurich
  • Gidon T. Frischkorn University of Zurich



Research assessment, Open Science, Theory Building


We appreciate the initiative to seek for ways to improve academic assessment by broadening the range of relevant research contributions and by considering a candidate’s scientific rigor. Evaluating a candidate's ability to contribute to science is a complex process that cannot be captured through one metric alone. While the proposed changes have some advantages, such as an increased focus on quality over quantity, the proposal's focus on adherence to open science practices is not sufficient, as it undervalues theory building and formal modelling: A narrow focus on open science conventions is neither a sufficient nor valid indicator for a “good scientist” and may even encourage researchers to choose easy, pre-registerable studies rather than engage in time-intensive theory building. Further, when in a first step only a minimum standard for following easily achievable open science goals is set, most applicants will soon pass this threshold. At this point, one may ask if the additional benefit of such a low bar outweighs the potential costs of such an endeavour. We conclude that a reformed assessment system should put at least equal emphasis on theory building and adherence to open science principles and should not completely disregard traditional performance metrices.


Metrics Loading ...






Special Topic