9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN24 Science and Technology

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Evaluation and Assessment of Scientific Systems Building AA, AA.225

Self-monitoring of universities using Social Network Analysis: best practice between research and university consultancy Management of University Research and Research Assessment Exercises

Networks within and between organisations are crucially important in shaping the success of innovation. Collaborative research projects, co-authored publications or multidisciplinary excellence networks in universities point to the network mode of today┬┤s knowledge production. Understanding communication patterns and network dynamics is relevant for R&D policies on the national, regional and sectoral level to identify access point for intervention and support. Social network analysis (SNA) can be a powerful tool for a better understanding of the collaborative research processes and of academic research performance. SNA can help to make the invisible visible and to support strategic collaboration.
This contribution presents first SNA results of investigating the internal and interdisciplinary collaboration networks of a major European university. R&D networks of universities are not only self-organising features, but also a target for management design. Therefore, the study is set up, on the one hand, as an academic research project, but is also intended, on the other, to contribute to the self-monitoring mechanisms of the university.
This ambiguity, scientific interest in the field of higher education research and consultancy for academic managers, gives rise to more fundamental considerations. It is important to discuss SNA in a methodological and ethical-regulatory context for evaluating its applicability. The methodological context concerns the discipline- and organisation-dependent usability of STI indicators (co-publications, co-patents etc.). It is important to see that indicators such as citation statistics only offer a limited and incomplete view and have to be complemented by other measures and qualitative considerations. The ethical-regulatory context refers to requirements of protecting personal data and transparent management procedures.