Academic Careers Understood through Measurement and Norms (ACUMEN) is a European research collaboration aimed at understanding the ways in which researchers are evaluated by their peers and by institutions, and at assessing how the science system can be improved and enhanced. This FP7 project is a cooperation among several European research institutes with Professor Paul Wouters (CWTS – Leiden University) as principal investigator.

European Commission 7th Framework Programme
Capacities, Science in Society 2010, Grant Agreement: 266632
Acknowledgment Slide (PowerPoint) (KeyNote) (PNG)

Institutional partners include:

Current research performance assessment limitations
Assessment of the performance of individual researchers is the cornerstone of the scientific and scholarly workforce. It shapes the quality and relevance of knowledge production in science, technology and innovation. Currently, there is a discrepancy between the criteria used in performance assessment and the broader social and economic function of scientific and scholarly research.

Additional problems in the current evaluation system are: lack of resources for qualitative evaluation due to increased scale of research; available quantitative measures are often not applicable at the individual level; there is a lack of recognition for new types of work that researchers need to perform. As a result, the broader social functions of the scientific system are often not included in its quality control mechanisms.

Beyond the limitations: integrating different methods
ACUMEN addresses these problems by developing criteria and guidelines for Good Evaluation Practices (GEP). These will be based on an ACUMEN Portfolio for individual researchers throughout the sciences, social sciences and humanities combining multiple qualitative and quantitative evidence sources. The ACUMEN Portfolio will be based on:

  • a comparative analysis of current peer review systems in Europe;
  • an in-depth exploration of novel peer review practices;
  • an assessment of the use of scientometric indicators in performance evaluation;
  • the development of new web-based indicators and web-based evaluation tools;
  • and a comparative analysis of the implications of current and emerging evaluation practices for the career development of women researchers.

ACUMEN is an integrated, comparative study in which a set of proven methods will be used on the basis of selections from one shared data set: a sample of European Research Area personnel from bibliographic and web databases as well as data harvested from websites, and data gathered through interviews and from citation indexes.


Paul Wouters
Professor of Scientometrics
Director Centre for Science and Technology Studies
Leiden University, the Netherlands
+31 71 5273909 (secr.)

Clifford Tatum
ACUMEN Project Manager
Centre for Science and Technology Studies
Leiden University, the Netherlands
+31 6 3960 5311