The Latin American Forum on Scientific Evaluation (FOLEC) in action

By The Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO)

The Latin American Forum on Scientific Evaluation (FOLEC) is a regional space for debate on the policies and practices of the evaluation of scientific work as well as the long-term implications of evaluation processes. Through FOLEC, the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO) seeks to change the system by recognizing and rewarding the open, common and public domain of knowledge and its connection with democratizing and sustainable models of science that are committed to solving societal problems. To do this, FOLEC is being used to find points of agreement to build and enhance regional assessment instruments and move towards guidelines that universities and funders from different Latin American countries can commit to.

First FOLEC Meeting in Mexico

The first FOLEC meeting was organized by CLACSO and the National Council of Science and Technology in Mexico (CONACYT) in Mexico City in November 2019. The event brought together regional experts, representatives of National Science and Technology Organizations and member centers of CLACSO to analyze different aspects of research evaluation and to generate proposals for good practice from Latin America and the Caribbean, in consultation with international trends and good practices.

The aim of the meeting sought the substantial transformation of research evaluation practices in Latin America and surfaced the need to articulate good practices with government representatives in order to achieve influence in policy development. The cooperation between CLACSO and CONACyT, the participation of UNESCO and other National Science and Technology Organizations such as COLCIENCIAS (from Colombia) and the CONICET (from Argentina) was a milestone for the construction of new policy proposals with real capacity for implementation.

Exchanges and discussions

Through a number of panels and roundtable discussions, the policies, practices, rationales, and interests of the main actors that influence global, regional, and national regulation of scientific evaluation were critically reviewed by participants. Case studies were used to identify how diverse governmental or institutional (from universities and scientific institutes) research assessment procedures were linked to global and regional trends.

The long-term implications of publishing practices on research evaluation also emerged as a major topic of discussion. There is tension between international publishers and the local Latin American and Caribbean publishers that can be reduced to the commodification of science and privatization of knowledge against the affirmation of knowledge as a public good, the importance of its role in democratizing knowledge, e.g., the right to science and right to information.

In addition, the FOLEC meeting generated a substantial dialogue between different repositories and platforms that make up the regional publications circuit–Redalyc, Scielo, LATINDEX, La Reference, and AmeliCA–underscoring their importance for the circulation of academic knowledge in Latin America and the Caribbean. As a result of the discussion at the meeting, a request was made for repositories like these to articulate information (metrics and other indicators) and foster interoperability to demonstrate the uniqueness and quality of Latin American and Caribbean knowledge production.

Agreements and proposals

The meeting reflections highlighted the link between science and society based on the right to knowledge. For this reason, scientific knowledge construction and transfer through a dialogue with the most diverse cultural communities is part of the scientific endeavor. Moreover, to advance the design of new types of evaluation, it is necessary to open a broader discussion on a series of concepts, such as social impact, social relevance, social responsibility, quality and excellence, among others, that have guided contemporary scientific knowledge evaluation and its impact. To this end, the FOLEC calls for the scientific communities and governments to get involved to strengthen the development of a science committed to the future of societies.  Currently, FOLEC’s agenda seeks to create spaces for discussion in the form of forums or seminars, where CLACSO assumes the responsibility of articulating and promoting reflection and work together with different governmental scientific organizations in the region and other associated institutions, in order to reach a common and regional proposal on science evaluation by November 2021.

Guest blog posts reflect the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of DORA.