European Research Area’s research assessment reform plan nears consensus

The evaluation of research outputs within Europe may soon become simpler and more unified as the reform of research assessment within the European Research Area received backing from member states’ science ministers – albeit stressing that the versatility of research systems within the EU must be considered.

The European Commission facilitated a lengthy consultation process, involving more than 300 stakeholders (out of which 20 research organisations were part of the core group debating the details), including ISE – Initiative for Science Europe, through which EuChemS also contributed. Following the consultation, the agreement was drafted by European University Association (EUA) and Science Europe representatives, as well as former chemistry researcher Karen Stroobants.

The key points of the research assessment reform draft, according to Science/Business, entail 4 commitments: the recognition of diversity of research careers; qualitative peer-evaluation based assessment; refraining from “inappropriate uses” of publication metrics as well as refraining from relying on international rankings of research organisations in research assessment. This is to result in a widened scope of assessment, involving more than a restrictive set of qualitative metrics.

The consensus came soon after German Research Foundation (DFG) expressed its disapproval towards the centralised nature of the proposed reforms in a position paper, emphasising that reforms should stem from the institutions instead. However, after the drafting team stated that these concerns were properly addressed, and research ministers stood behind the Commission’s adoption of this reform draft, it is likely that the reforms will be underway soon.


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