March 2010

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The assessment of social humanistic research, an example of reflexion and discussion

Joaquim Prats Cuevas - President of AQU Catalunya

This edition of AQU's Butlletí e-journal, which is devoted entirely to the Workshop on Research Assessment in the Humanities and Social Sciences, brings to a close what has been, at least for AQU Catalunya, one of the most significant examples of reflexion and discussion in the scientific and academic community in Catalonia, on an issue that has aroused great interest.

The Workshop had a twofold objective: on the one hand, to reflect on the assessment of research in the Humanities and Social Sciences and, on the other, to identify proposals for promoting greater consensus on the assessment and evaluation of such research.

Right from the very beginning, the modest aim of the structure of the Workshop and its approach was to create an appropriate setting for the scientific and academic community to express itself and be listened to. Over three hundred people attended the Workshop and, including those presenting papers and contributions, around sixty had the opportunity to speak. The opportunity to speak, be listened to, make contributions and establish constructive dialogue with the others was open to everybody who participated.

The combination of ideas and agreement resulted in the identification of a series of contributions, which I would qualify as outstanding, and due to their interest and repercussion they deserve to be considered as being beneficial for the improvement of research assessment and evaluation processes. The contributions that were submitted were set out in the conclusions by the various workgroups, with the ones common to the majority of the groups being included in the workshop's final document.

The proposals put forward aimed mainly at ways to perfect research assessment. To this end, it is essential for the quality assurance agencies in both Catalonia and Spain as a whole to reach agreement on improving the model, given that consistency is required in the system in order for it to run effectively.

Taking the basis of reasoning as being the Workshop conclusions, the Agency therefore hereby commits to promoting broader discussion in both Catalonia and Spain as a whole as a way to structure a system for assessment and evaluation that is more in accordance with the specific nature of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

I would like to express our appreciation to all of those who selflessly set aside time to participate in the Workshop, the contributions of whom will, in my opinion, enable progress to be made in enhancing research assessment in these fields of knowledge.
Given the success of the workshop in terms of the search for consensus, the Agency will continue to give impetus to this methodology for reflexion and discussion on other relevant issues.


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