Why DORA’s Governance Is Changing

We must live up to our own standards of inclusion.

DORA challenges academic institutions, funding organizations, and scholarly societies to include a broader representation of researchers in the design of responsible research assessment policies and practices. We apply this same standard to our organization, and we want to do our utmost to address the long-standing structural inequalities that limit participation and success in academia.

Over the past 18 months, DORA has reviewed our operational structure to see how we can better live our values as an organization. While we have global aspirations to accelerate research assessment reform, our governance effectively limited participation in the Steering Committee to representatives from organizations in Europe and North America. Although our Advisory Board had representation from every continent and provided a global perspective, this dual committee structure did not embody the aspirations for equity that we wish to see incorporated into responsible research assessment. The DORA Steering Committee and Advisory Board therefore worked collaboratively—through multiple rounds of discussion, feedback and refinements—to develop a new governance set-up.  The work was informed by examples drawn from the wider scholarly communications community. We are particularly grateful to Invest in Open Infrastructure and Code for Science & Society for sharing their work on developing anti-racist governance. 

Thanks to the insights gained through this important work, DORA is implementing a number of changes to our governance procedures, effective January 1, 2022:

  • Distribute power outside of Europe and North America on the Steering Committee.

    How we will do this: We have fused the Steering Committee and the Advisory Board. Current Advisory Board members have transitioned to positions as at-large members on the Steering Committee. Every representative on the Steering Committee from a supporting organization will now be matched by one at-large member. At-large members will have the same voting rights as representatives of supporting organizations.

  • Reduce financial barriers for organizations in developing or transitional economies that wish to support DORA.

    How we will do this: We have created a policy that will calibrate fees for supporting organizations located in “developing economies” and “economies in transition” as defined by the United Nations World Economic Situations and Prospects annual report (see the 2021 report here). 

  • Ensure that leadership positions on the Steering Committee reflect the wide diversity of academia.

    How we will do this: We adjusted the governance so that it works through a Steering Committee and an elected Executive Board. Unlike the previous Steering Committee and Advisory Board relationship, the Executive Board is made up of a subset of Steering Committee members that should come from diverse backgrounds, academic fields, and geographic locations. They are elected by and from the Steering Committee through a self-nomination process. This change will also improve DORA’s organizational flexibility by allowing quicker responses when needed. 

The newly formed Executive Board includes: 

  • Stephen Curry, who will complete his term as Chair
    Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • Ginny Barbour, who will transition to Vice Chair from her role as Chair of the Advisory Board
    Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • Christian Gonzalez-Billaut
    Universidad de Chile, Chile
  • Anna Hatch (ex officio)
    San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)
  • Laura Rovelli
    El Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO), Argentina
  • Rhoda Wanyenze
    Makerere University School of Public Health, Uganda

DORA’s vision is to advance practical and robust approaches to research assessment globally and across all scholarly disciplines. This requires global participation at an operational level. The revised governance procedures, which can be found here, have been designed to increase geographic representation in the Steering Committee. But we know there is more work to do. Just as with responsible research assessment, this is not a one-off exercise. We will continue reflecting and refining how we can best operate as an inclusive organization, one that is optimally able to support the academic community in its efforts to improve research assessment.  

Anna Hatch is DORA’s Program Director
Stephen Curry is Chair of DORA’s Steering Committee

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