Funding is arbitrary
These arguments are weak, to say the least. For starters, who receives funding is already arbitrary. The quality of the funding proposal and the researcher’s abilities are less relevant than who are the members of the committee. Many bids meets the standards for excellent research, which means that committees lack clear grounds to distinguish between them. They rely on arbitrary factors such as their renowned gut feeling. Whether an applicant receives funding is more or less a lottery – just with slightly better odds.
Narrative CVs or Impact Factors
These researchers are correct that assessing a narrative CV is harder than assessing a classic CV, but only because we already have metrics for the latter. It is no more difficult to measure leadership than it is to measure scholarship: as any 2nd year undergraduate student will learn, if you want to measure something, you need to operationalize it. And while not every operationalization is equally valid for the concept you’re interested in – there can be discussions about what are good metrics – there is no reason we cannot measure leadership any more than there would be complaints that we cannot measure scholarship. Again, our metrics are just social conventions – they are good, because we agree that they are good.
It is probably no surprise that these objections were made by mostly senior researchers. After all, they thrived in the system that is now being redesigned – the metrics that made them successful will no longer be valued. In fact, shortly after they wrote their letter, over a hundred junior researchers wrote their own letter to counter these objections. Senior researchers do not share the lived reality of junior researchers who buckle under the pressure of modern academia, pressure these senior scholars never had to deal with – at least not in the same way. Relying on 9-month contracts for years after finishing a PhD, moving from city to city, spending hours writing grants in one’s spare time, that are almost always rejected, no matter the quality, all for a salary that forces some to live in shared housing well into their 30s is insane. If these senior scholars truly care about us junior researchers, they will not try to stick to an antiquated system, just because it’s the way things have always been. They are in a position to make it better: the place to start would be to listen and work with the scholars they want to be helping.