New professional roles? Competencies and task profiles in IT-supported research reporting

Start of the project: 01-Jul-2019 - End of the project: 30-Jun-2022

Changes in the governance structure of research have resulted in a growing need for information to enable strategic management of higher education institutions. As a consequence, new occupational roles and task profiles for IT-based reporting of research activities and its use in organizational development and quality control emerge. The project focuses on this group of practitioners who have not yet been a subject of systematic study before. It focuses on their task profiles and qualifications and their role in data-based quantitative evaluation of research as well as their competences against the backdrop of the increasing digitalization of the governance of research.

The sociology of expertise and professions developed by Andrew Abbott provides the theoretical framing for our study as well as the notion of infrastructures developed in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). The study design combines qualitative case studies, using expert interviews and ethnographic methods, conducted at German and other European research organizations which employ advanced IT-based documentation of research activities with a broad quantitative survey on digitally supported reporting practices in Germany.

The analysis is guided by the following research questions: First, which contexts of data collection, processing and uses for reporting purposes exist? Second, which professional responsibilities, organizational locations and specific task profiles are to be found in the task area of IT-based research reporting? Which processes and implementation dynamics occur during the introduction of research information systems and other technical systems of research documentation? What are the professional backgrounds, qualifications, and present and desired competences of the respective personnel?

The analysis has three proclaimed goals: First, it aims first at developing new insights in the sociology of professions regarding a specific occupational group in the field of research management and into the research information systems as part of the “evaluative infrastructure”. Second, it strives for a methodological contribution in the measurement of competences. Third, it has practical implications regarding development perspectives of IT-based reporting of research activities in Germany. The project develops recommendations for qualification and training for this new professional group in the form of a competency model.

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The Competent Bibliometrician–A Guided Tour through the Scholarly and Practitioner Literature.

Petersohn, S. (2020).
The Competent Bibliometrician–A Guided Tour through the Scholarly and Practitioner Literature. In Ball, R. (Hrsg.), Handbook Bibliometrics (S. 485-496). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Saur.

Repeated calls for responsible research metrics and professional codes of conduct in evaluative bibliometrics highlight the need to investigate which qualifications and competencies enable a proficient application of bibliometric methods and indicators. Taking competence research as a point of departure, this chapter delineates salient dimensions of professional competence in bibliometric research evaluation by reviewing a selected subset of the literature. The reviewed literature focuses on handbooks, monographs, and scholarly and practitioner articles that introduce theory and methodology of bibliometrics and showcase applications to scholars and practitioners mainly outside of the scientometric research community.


Ethnografie digitaler Infrastrukturen.

Petersohn, S. (2020).
Workshop Ethnografie digitaler Infrastrukturen.Workshop des Forschungsclusters Empirische Methoden der Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung unter der Leitung von Juniorprofessorin Dr. Stefanie Büchner (Leibniz Universität Hannover), DZHW, Berlin.

Lead Researcher

Sabrina Petersohn
Dr. Sabrina Petersohn Lead Researcher +49 30 2064177-33


Dr. Stefan Schelske Christoph Thiedig

Funded by

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung