AgŔncia per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya

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13.5.2020

AQU Catalunya accedes to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

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AQU Catalunya is now one of the 1,940 organisations that have signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

AQU Catalunya assesses the research output of academic staff for two main reasons:

  • Ex-ante assessment to establish eligibility for contract staff selection procedures at institutions in the system of higher education in Catalonia, as a prerequisite that demonstrates that an individual has a certain level of research ability. Once accreditation has been obtained, candidates then apply to selection and recruitment procedures that are the responsibility of higher education institutions, which endorse calls for applications, set the requirements in terms of requisite experience, specialisation and capabilities, and select the individuals who best fit the profiles of available posts.
  • Assessment and accreditation of merits in research (periods of six-years), in connection with productivity-based remuneration for public service and contract teaching and research staff, which accredits an individual's research during a given six-year period, under the terms provided for by law. In the case of the public universities, it is the institution's Social Council (Consell Social) that, at the proposal of the Governing Board, allocates the corresponding remuneration.

In recent years attention and relevant documents, including the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics, have focused on the assessment of scholarly research. These documents identify possible bias and inaccuracies that can occur in the assessment of scientific output. Teaching staff assessment procedures at AQU Catalunya, which are based on the peer review of contributions, are aligned with the vision set out in the aforementioned documents in several respects, including:

  • Quality over quantity. AQU Catalunya's Research Assessment Committee (CAR) is responsible for the research assessment procedure and criteria, according to each field of knowledge, and they are then independently implemented by various specific committees that come under the Research Assessment Committee. In the reformed evaluation criteria that were approved in 2016, the Research Assessment Committee introduced the prevalence of proven quality over the quantity of contributions. The quantity and the bibliometric parameters serve as a guideline, but it is the proven quality of scientific contributions that prevails.
  • Expert peer review. Each application is evaluated by various specialists with a prominent career in each respective field of knowledge and who are appointed as members of each specific committee in accordance with their ability, experience and diversity. The specific committees consist of a sufficient number of members and advisers so that all fields of knowledge in which accreditation is granted are covered by specific experts. The final decision is made on the basis of consensual assessment by each specific committee.

In April, AQU Catalunya's Governing Board endorsed AQU Catalunya's signing of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and it is now a DORA signer.

The president of AQU Catalunya, Dr. Josep Joan Moreso, welcomed the news and said that “AQU Catalunya and the Research Assessment Committee work to continually enhance the assessment criteria and procedure so as to accommodate the changing reality of the system and they welcome all ideas and suggestions to this end, in particular those set out in the DORA declaration and the Leiden Manifesto”.

Dr. Lluís Torner, chair of AQU's Research Assessment Committee, commented that, in his opinion, "the recommendations in the DORA declaration are inspiring from the point of view of the work of the committees that grant the accreditation of research adequacy that is entrusted to the Research Assessment Committee, and so we are very pleased to have now officially signed (the declaration). And to point out that the recommendations are particularly important for committees at HEIs that deal with staff selection and promotion, as well as the agencies that award grants and contracts to researchers.”