Welcome to the new DORA website! Please do not be alarmed. The fundamentals have not changed – the declaration remains the same – but thanks to support from a broad range of organizations, we have ambitious plans in place for the future.
The idea for the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment was conceived at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), and the declaration itself was announced in May 2013. After five years of dedicated effort, DORA has been signed by thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations including universities, funders and publishers. The movement placed renewed attention on the misuse of journal-based metrics, such as the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), and focused on the task of freeing research assessment from their influence.
There is still much to do. The plan now is to intensify our efforts. With funding and in-kind support from the American Society for Cell Biology, Cancer Research UK, the Company of Biologists, eLife, EMBO, F1000, Hindawi, PLOS, and Wellcome, we have been able to hire a Community Manager, Dr. Anna Hatch, who will be dedicated to coordinating efforts. We also have a newly formed steering group, chaired by myself, which will actively promote DORA. Please feel free to invite any of us to your conference, workshop, university or place of work to talk about research assessment and what DORA can do to help facilitate change. Finally, to help ensure that our collective efforts are well-directed and truly global in scope, we are assembling a broad-based Advisory Group.
As well as raising DORA’s profile, a major task will be to help individuals and institutions bring about real change in research assessment practices. To many people the JIF feels like a convenient and ready-made tool for gauging research performance in hiring, promotion or funding decisions, particularly at triage stages where there are large volumes of applicants and applications. We need to encourage people to think more broadly about assessment – not just the research aspects – but we also need to provide tools to create change in a robust and time-efficient manner. Only by facilitating practical steps will the stranglehold of bad metrics be broken.
We have started highlighting good practices on our website. But we are sure there must be many more examples and are keen to find and share them with you. We would like to facilitate discussion between practitioners and anyone who is thinking about improving research assessment where they work.
If you have ideas about what DORA can do to ensure that research and researchers are evaluated intelligently and fairly on their merits, please get in touch.
Here’s to the next five years!
Stephen Curry is a professor and assistant provost at Imperial College London. He is also the chair of the DORA steering committee.