Humanities scholars’ conceptions of research quality

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The assessment of research performance in the humanities is linked to the question of what humanities scholars perceive as ‘good research’. Even though scholars themselves evaluate research on a daily basis, e.g. while reading other scholars’ research, not much is known about the quality concepts scholars rely on in their judgment of research. This chapter presents a project funded by the Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities, in which humanities scholars’ conceptions of research quality were investigated and translated into an approach to research evaluation in the humanities. The approach involves the scholars of a given discipline and seeks to identify agreed-upon concepts of quality. By applying the approach to three humanities disciplines, the project reveals both the opportunities and limitations of research quality assessment in the humanities: A research assessment by means of quality criteria presents opportunities to make visible and evaluate humanities research, while a quantitative assessment by means of indicators is very limited and is not accepted by scholars. However, indicators that are linked to the humanities scholars’ notions of quality can be used to support peers in the evaluation process (i.e. informed peer review).




Ochsner, M., Hug, S. E., & Daniel, H. D. (2016). Humanities scholars’ conceptions of research quality. In Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures (pp. 43–69). Springer International Publishing.

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