Research

My research focus is in the fields of higher education, science studies and the sociology of professions. A key question that underpins most of my empirical research projects is how, if at all, institutional change impacts on professional practices. I use interviews, focus groups, interaction recordings and on site observations to analyse these real-life practices. Please find below my broad areas of research, some related projects and grants. Please message me, if you would like to know more.

Doctoral Education and Academic Socialization

Doctoral Education is a basic academic activity that has recently come under scrutiny from policymakers, university leaders and a new group of educational experts worldwide. They aim to make the PhD journey more structured, time efficient and responsive to the needs of students, institutions and labour markets within and beyond academia. This research area explores if the doctorate is currently changing fundamentally by examining the actual practice of doctoral research and supervision within different disciplines and higher education systems. Currently I am comparing the social sciences and physics in the German chair, Australian lecturer and US graduate school system.

This research is funded by two grants from the German Research Foundation:
Professional PhD Supervision, 2013-2016.
International comparison of doctoral training practices, 2019-2020.

Research Assessment and Governance

Academic institutions and entire national research systems are increasingly subject to different forms of research assessments that transcend traditional peer review processes. Evaluators deal with bulks of research reports rather than single papers or projects and increasingly rely on metrics. They consider additional criteria such as organizational infrastructures or the economic and social impact of research. These assessments are tightly linked to higher education and research governance as assessment results inform sensitive decisions about the future of entire research groups, insitutions and fields. This research area explores how research assessments work in practice, how institutions play the game and evaluators make decisions.

This research was funded by two grants from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research:
Constructing Judgements within Peer Review Processes. International Case Studies on Evaluation of Scientific Institutions, 2007 – 2009.
Institutional Effects of Evaluation, 2010 – 2012.

Projectification

A basic trend in modern societies is to construct all kinds of activities in form of a project with predefined aims, content, procedures and timelines. This research area explores the emergence, dynamics, epistemic and social consequences of projectification in academia including the rise of insecure academic employment and careers.

This research was funded by a Ph.D. scholarship from the German Research Foundation within the doctoral program “Entering the Knowledge Society“, 2003-2006.

Science and Society

This broad research area explores the link between science and society. In the book “The Responsiveness of science” my colleagues and I describe the relationship between science an society as an open interaction in which neither academia nor other societal actors predefine the outcomes of this encounter. My work on entrepreneurial scientists shows that a marriage between academic and entrepreneurial role patterns is difficult to achieve as the social worlds of scientists and entrepreneurs are divided by differnt career, work and outcome logics. My studies on drug safety communication show how pharmaceutical industries try to regulate public safety warnings on medicines and scientific evidence. These studies were funded by grants from:

BMBF German Federal Minestry of Education and Research: Typing and Characterising Academic Entrepreneurs: What Makes Them Succeed? (2007-2008)

NHRMC Australian National Health and Medical Research Council: How best to protect Public Health: A Comparative Analysis of Regulatory Safety Warnings on Medicines in Australia, Canada, the European Union and the United States (2017-2020).

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