Research assessment reform is part of the open research movement in academia that asks the question: Who and what is research for? The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), an initiative that operates under the sponsorship of the American Society for Cell Biology, has been awarded a 3-year, $1.2M grant from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The generous funding will support Tools to Advance Research Assessment (TARA), a project to facilitate the development of new policies and practices for academic career assessment. Project TARA is a collaboration with Sarah de Rijcke, Professor in Science and Evaluation Studies and director of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University, and Ruth Schmidt, Associate Professor at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
The grant for Project TARA will help DORA to identify, understand, and make visible the criteria and standards universities use to make hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions. This information will be used to create resources and practical guidance on the reform of research assessment for academic and scholarly institutions. The grant provides DORA with crucial support to create the following outputs:
- An interactive online dashboard that tracks criteria and standards academic institutions use for hiring, review, promotion, and tenure.
- A survey of U.S. academic institutions to gain a broad understanding of institutional attitudes and approaches to research assessment reform.
- A toolkit of resources informed by the academic community to support academic institutions working to improve policy and practice.
Research assessment reform is a key part of the open research movement, which has prompted deeper reflection about who and what academic work is for. Though many in the scholarly community remain fixated on papers, books, and grants as the usual indicators of “success,” there is growing consideration of how scholarly work reaches and impacts the wider world. For example, what impact does research have onmedical advances, climate science, historical insights, social policy, and other outputs, such as data, software, skills training, and entrepreneurship? This is leading many stakeholders to consider a much broader range of contributions and qualities in research assessment.
Stephen Curry, chair of the DORA Steering Committee said, “We are delighted to receive this funding from Arcadia. It is a tremendous vote of confidence in DORA and will help us to move up a gear in our efforts to develop and disseminate improved research assessment practices.”
‘Arcadia is a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. It supports charities and scholarly institutions that preserve cultural heritage and the environment. Arcadia also supports projects that promote open access and all of its awards are granted on the condition that any materials produced are made available for free online. Since 2002, Arcadia has awarded more than $777 million to projects around the world.’
About the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)
The Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) recognizes the need to improve the ways in which the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated. The idea for the declaration was developed in 2012 during the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in San Francisco. It has become a worldwide initiative to advance practical and robust approaches to research assessment covering all scholarly disciplines and all key stakeholders including funders, publishers, professional societies, institutions, and researchers. DORA raises awareness and facilitates the implementation of good practice in research assessment to catalyze change and improve equity in academia.