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Evaluation of the Social Sciences in Norway: Report from Panel 3 – Political Science
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6546-5210
University of Leiden.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
The European University Institute .
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2018 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Panel 3 evaluated 53 units in all, 22 institutional units and 31 research groups. The evaluation included university departments of political science, political scientists working in interdisciplinary units at universities and university colleges, and political scientists working at interdisciplinary research institutes.

Broadly speaking, Norwegian Political Science is doing well. Our assessments of the scientific output across institutes and research groups show that the impact varies between fair and excellent, even though we underline the limitations of such an oversimplified classification scheme. The panel observes variation in the scientific quality impact of institutions, especially within the Oslo region compared with most other parts of Norway. The majority of subdisciplines are well covered. A substantial number of studies focus on conflict, peace and policy studies (food, climate, energy etc.). Much of the research focuses on Norway and is directly relevant to Norwegian society. Some of the work makes significant theoretical contributions, but most of it mainly offers a strong empirical dimension.

However, some areas receive relatively little attention, such as classical and modern political theory, political economy and political history. The range of comparative work could also be broader. Given the available human capital, funding and other resources, the panel finds that Political Science in Norway is not realising its full potential. There is a tendency – at both the research institutes and universities – to rely too much on policy-oriented research funding, which might be an obstacle to pursuing more innovative and ground-breaking conceptual work. Likewise, the recruitment of a new generation of political scientists in the form of PhD students and postdocs is largely driven by project funding, thereby limiting their scope to develop their own topics or ideas. A few institutions have accessed international (mainly EU) funding, but the many smaller units lack the scale and resources required to compete for such funds. These researchers would do well to develop (counter-) strategies that enable them to participate in larger projects, including H2020 proposals. Diversification of funding is a general recommendation for the majority of evaluated units.

The panel’s assessment of research groups revealed considerable variation between the institutes with regard to their purpose and ‘social life’. The panel considers a constructive and enabling research environment to be the most valuable function of a research group, while at the same time ensuring that individual researchers have autonomy to develop their own research agendas. The panel notes that many of the high-scoring research groups have a good support structure within their departments or institutions, whereas some of the weaker ones lack such support. Joint activities aimed at raising scientific quality, such as regular work-in-progress seminars, article or book manuscript review sessions, mock research grant interviews, staff retreats, and (international) guest speakers, are ways of going forward. More could also be done to target high-profile international journals and publishers, while maintaining a broader perspective on modes of scientific output beyond peer-reviewed articles.

In light of the considerable organisational fragmentation of Political Science in Norway, and corresponding problems of scale, more collaboration across institutions within the country is generally desirable. Researcher mobility within Norway and internationally could also be expanded. This could to help to bring political science environments closer together, both in their research and in PhD and postdoc training, thereby strengthening Political Science as a discipline.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lysaker: Research Council of Norway, 2018. , p. 286
Keywords [en]
evaluation, research, political science, Norwegian political science research
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
statskunskap
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-149574ISBN: 978-82-12-03695-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-149574DiVA, id: diva2:1222893
Available from: 2018-06-23 Created: 2018-06-23 Last updated: 2018-06-27Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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