‘Excellence’ in the Research Ecosystem: A Literature Review. (RoRI Working Paper No. 5)
The notion of ‘excellence’ has become an increasingly important part of the research ecosystem over the last 20 years and has shaped science policy, research funding and evaluation activities. Notions of excellence are mobilized in the context of national evaluation systems, institutional funding programs, grant project funding, Centers of Excellence, and play a role in individual career assessment. While omnipresent in the research ecosystem, there is no consensus on what ‘excellence’ means or how it should be recognized.
This literature review analyses how notions of excellence have been understood in higher education and research systems, and how those understandings have evolved. It forms an initial output from a Research on Research Institute (RoRI) project, which is exploring how funders in the RoRI consortium use excellence in their work, and what strategies are being developed to broaden how the concept is defined and applied.