Q&A The Academy Thermometer

Who can participate in The Academy Thermometer?

Anyone who teaches and/or conducts scientific research in the Netherlands. This is not limited to employees of universities.

How long does it take to complete the survey?

It takes around 15 minutes to fill in the survey.

How does The Academy Thermometer differ from previous surveys on mental health among academics?

Besides using validated questionnaires on anxiety and depression, we also look at positive factors (such as job happiness and satisfaction), social safety, publication pressure and working conditions. Moreover, we want to ask all academics at national level to fill in The Academy Thermometer, not a specific group or a particular university. This will give us a broader picture of the mental well-being of academics in the Netherlands.

How does The Academy Thermometer differ from the employee surveys of universities and other institutions?

University employee surveys are broad in scope and often cover all aspects of working at the institution in question. They therefore give a good picture of how employees experience working at that specific institution. The Academy Thermometer focuses specifically on mental health, which allows us to give a picture of all of Dutch academia. Moreover, no affiliation is asked; so the results cannot be traced back to a specific university or institute.

It is not assumed too much that mental health among academics is not good?

(Inter)national studies (see, for example, Nature and PNN/PostdocNL) have shown that many academics struggle with mental problems. This prompted us to investigate this in the Netherlands too. In the questionnaires, however, there is also plenty of room to indicate that you do not experience any complaints and are actually satisfied with your work.

What will you do with the results?

The results will be analysed and incorporated into a report. This report will be available to everyone and will also be discussed with organisations such as the Ministry of OCW, UNL and NWO. The report is expected in the second half of 2024.

Will the research data be made public?

The research data will be anonymised and made publicly available according to the FAIR principles of Open Science (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Reusability).

How is participant privacy ensured?

There is a privacy policy and an online informed consent statement that participants are shown.

How will this research be more influential than all other surveys and focus groups that were conducted before?

This study differs from previous studies in that we specifically look at mental health, mental health symptoms and positive factors contributing to happiness and satisfaction. Moreover, we are looking at all academics in the Netherlands and not a specific group within them.

There have been many national and international studies or university-level surveys in recent years and they all show the same results. What will one more report contribute to this?

The Academy Thermometer focuses on working conditions, social safety and other psychological factors (such as happiness and satisfaction) in addition to mental health and well-being. Also, this survey is not set up at an institutional level, but it target audience are all academics in the Netherlands. The design of the survey is thus different and we hope that the breadth of the survey will make the results useful for policymakers.

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