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Large stack of files with multicoloured paperclips attached on a wooden desk, stack aligned to the left of the picture © eaglesky

Research Assessment

The processes and practices that structure research assessments are key to ensuring the quality of research. There is a need to diversify the activities, outputs, and outcomes that are recognised as part of research assessment processes. Equally, a broader set of skills and competencies must be acknowledged and valued as part of the assessments of researchers.

Science Europe works to ensure that research quality remains the core principle that underpins evaluation processes at all levels.

Why does research assessment matter?

Research assessment lies at the core of all Science Europe Member Organisations’ activities and is fundamental to the research endeavour. It is used to select projects and researchers for funding, for determining career progression, and to evaluate research units and institutes. It forms the basis for our recognition, rewards, and incentives systems, and therefore influences the behaviours and activities of all members of the research community.

Science Europe’s Member Organisations periodically review how the assessments of research and researchers are designed and implemented. They aim to ensure that their assessment processes are fair, efficient, transparent, and effective.

What are the current priorities?

It is Science Europe’s priority to promote research quality as the most important factor in research assessment.

Research assessment must reward all research contributions and activities, and promote good research practices, reproducibility, and integrity. To that end, it needs to capture the diversity of research outputs and outcomes in a manner that is appropriate to each research field.

Ensuring that research assessment processes are transparent, effective, and fair is of fundamental significance.

What is Science Europe doing to achieve these aims?

Science Europe has worked with its Member Organisations and external stakeholders to carry out a comprehensive study of research assessment practices used by research funding and performing organisations. This has provided an opportunity for members to collectively identify best practices and engage in mutual learning.

In consultation with experts, stakeholders, and the research community, Science Europe developed a set of policy recommendations that represents a best-practice model for research assessment processes.

Science Europe is currently part of a multi-stakeholder initiative that was initiated by the European Commission to reform research assessment. Together with the European University Association and Dr Karen Stroobants, it collected input from more than 350 organisations from over 40 countries to draft an Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment. The next step is to launch a coalition, composed of organisations willing to take forward the implementation of the changes recommended, in the second half of 2022.

Holistic perspective on Research Culture

Science Europe’s activities on Research Assessment between 2019 and 2021 identified the need to develop a holistic perspective of the policies and practices implemented by research organisations that can influence the values, norms, behaviour, and activities of researchers. This led to the establishment of Science Europe’s new strategic priority on Research Culture. As part of this new Research Culture thinking, Science Europe has extensively discussed the role of core values, and has published a shared Values Framework as a reference for policy and practice changes across all research policy topics.

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