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Is research becoming a game with 4 players and 22 referees?

Editorial letter
Authors Johan Woxenius
Published in Transport reviews
Volume 39
Issue 4
Pages 423-426
ISSN 0144-1647
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Business Administration
Department of Business Administration, Industrial and Financial Management & Logistics
Centre for Environment and Sustainability
Northern LEAD
Pages 423-426
Language en
Keywords Referee, peer review, evaluation, assessment
Subject categories Transport Systems and Logistics, Business Administration


Assessment is at the heart of any academic job and we expose ourselves to constant evaluation throughout our careers. We benefit from the feedback by improved outputs, by pushing ourselves to meet ever-increasing standards and, hopefully, by getting the jobs, titles and rewards we are qualified for. But we do not come out successfully from all evaluations and assessment is a significant source of stress and anxiety. Academic staff grade students’ exams and theses, oppose or serve in the grading committee at Ph.D. defences, evaluate applicants for positions and promotions and, of course, peer review journal article manuscripts. The aim is to certify that people possess a certain competence and that research results are robust enough to serve as a foundation for further research. Accumulative science relies on the concept that when we are “standing on the shoulders of giants”, we can trust the giants. This editorial, however, is not about pros and cons of being evaluated but about the work to evaluate. As we assess each other within the academic system, the task of reviewing is a matter of give and take for each researcher. With traditional academic quality assessment being over-layered with evaluations supporting resource allocation decisions inspired by New Public Management, it consumes time that might be better allocated to thinking new thoughts, sharing views at seminars, reading scientific literature, collecting empirical evidence and writing up reports and articles. With a football metaphor, it is suggested that research is becoming a game with four players and twenty-two referees.

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