Background

The analogy in the models of search for “truth and method” in the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences was drawn in the middle of the nineteenth century. Not only empirical methods and quantitative data analysis were borrowed from the sciences and implemented into historical, sociopolitical, and cultural modes of research. The impacts upon human realities of every kind began to be evaluated against the same scales: the degree and duration of the actual application, the number of discovered facts (whether ‘social’ in Durkheimian terms or others), or the quantity of cited texts and publications on specific topics, and their type of presentation in the public arena and media.

The process of growing objectivization and objectification of knowledge within Geisteswissenschaften was emphatically underlined by V. Dilthey, H.-G. Gadamer, H. Arendt, and other scholars, who addressed the problems of the fundamental divide between explaining and understanding, theory and method, phronēsis and episteme, in changing types of research in the humanities. Critical to modern approaches in which such rigorous scientific methods are applied to the humanities, these scholars raised questions about the effectiveness of such knowledge for humankind to avoid reaching a position where “true reality” was lost.

New and changing tendencies in the evaluation of research could be observed during the last decade, for example, in reexamining the impact assessment policy in humanities and social sciences research in Europe. Such evaluations demonstrate that the issues of impact in the humanities overlap with the dimension of value judgments; the evidence of research outcomes is scarcely traceable to one particular piece of research or to pre-planned impacts. As a result, the conversation about “impact” shifts towards “influence” and “engagement”, personal effectiveness and responsibility.

The wider impact of research in the humanities and social sciences raises questions of the uses made of research outcomes in diverse spheres: public policy, education, media, ethics, personal career development, and others. For the modern University, this type of research evaluation is used to identify specific research strategies that lead to specific kinds of impacts.

This conference raises the question of the exceptional situation of research assessment in social sciences and the humanities for Central and Eastern European universities which are active in such research, and trying to find best practices in the evaluation and application of knowledge and the alignment of research policy with quality assessment.

Co-financed by:European Commission