The series is a follow-up to the 2020 Setting a good example will help others do well
(Goed voorbeeld doet goed volgen
) publication, in which The Young Academy uses interviews with young researchers to make recommendations for the implementation of the Recognition & Rewards programme. Members of the top layer, who happen to have significant influence over academic policy in the Netherlands, are interviewed in Aan de Top!
And we use this series to examine which aspects of the current system have been of value, or even essential, to those academics for a career in academia. We also aim to shed light on the other side: Are there any things in their careers that did not turn out exactly as they had hoped, and if so, how can we organise this better for the next generation?
All six interviewees stressed the importance of working in teams. According to them, contemporary academia cannot do without collective input. The academics talk about various forms of cooperation. Klaas Landsman makes a case for involving more disciplines in providing answers to research questions, disciplines that are actually appointed to a single team. International teams are mentioned as well, by Dorret Boomsma, for example, as a means of joining forces and achieving a greater impact together.
But no one is able to give a clear answer as to exactly what team science is and how to make it measurable. The difficulties include working out how to assess an individual that is part of a team and how to measure the results, or whether the person’s contribution to the team should be the key element in assessments. For Patricia Dankers, a publication in a leading journal remains the ultimate goal, and one that is easily measurable.
The professors interviewed still have many dreams and wishes for the future and struggle with the idea of being ‘at the top’. Nevertheless, they are aware of their privileged position. They say they reached this position through a combination of hard work, perseverance and a dose of good luck. Opinions vary on the current system, with the emphasis on the usefulness and necessity of competition. Many see it as essential to the pursuit of the best science and make comparisons with elite sport. And while Peter-Paul Verbeek is in fact against this system, he also admits he is a product of it.