ERA Policy Agenda Action 3 deals with advancing towards the reform of the Assessment System for research, researchers and institutions to improve their quality, performance and impact. The way research projects, researchers, research units, and research institutions are assessed is fundamental for a well-functioning R&I system. However, current systems often use inappropriate and narrow indicators and methods to assess the quality, performance and impact of research. The quantity of publications in journals with high Journal Impact Factor and the number of publications and citations are dominant proxies for quality, performance and impact.
Some research funding and performing organisations are already taking steps for improving the way they assess their research and researchers. Many promising new practices are emerging, as illustrated by case studies identified by the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) together with the European University Association and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Europe. However, progress remains slow, limited and fragmented across Europe.
In 2021, an extensive consultation of stakeholders identified the objectives, principles and types of actions for a reformed research assessment system that could be agreed between stakeholders. This action consists in establishing a coalition of individual research funding organisations, research performing organisations and their associations as well as national/regional assessment authorities and agencies, learned societies, and other relevant organisations, all willing to reform the current research assessment system. An agreement between the coalition members will confirm the commitment of the signatories to changes. An implementation plan will be established by the signatories, including milestones and timeframes, to translate commitments into effective changes. Governance and measures for monitoring the progress made and for exchanging information will be agreed among the signatories to ensure that commitments translate into tangible changes, and to ensure mutual learning for evidence-informed changes. The agreement will respect the autonomy of research organisations in setting their own recruitment/assessment policies, will respect the differences among scientific disciplines and will allow for diversity in practices.
National authorities play a very important role in the reform of research assessment, by developing policies and legislative frameworks that enable changes, and by facilitating coordination between stakeholders in the field at national or regional level.
The expected outcomes are:
- The creation of a coalition of European research funders and research performers who agree on a new approach for research assessment, following wide and inclusive consultations at European and international level;
- An implementation plan of the coalition to roll-out the new approach, including pilots in different domains;
- An analysis of legal and administrative barriers at national and trans-national level for a modern research assessment system.
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