DORA very much welcomes the new Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment, which was announced on 20 July 2022.
Developed by the European University Association and Science Europe, the initiative has the support of the European Commission and aims to create a coalition of organizations (primarily from Europe though the Agreement is open to others) who are committed to taking concrete steps to reform their research assessment practices.
We applaud this effort and see the Agreement and coalition as an important part of the growing international movement for research assessment reform. DORA has been consulted from the early stages of this project and provided detailed feedback on early drafts of the Agreement. We are also participating in the implementation group to define the operation of the coalition that will support the reform efforts as they emerge.
While recognizing institutional autonomy and disciplinary variation, signatories to the Agreement undertake to use metrics responsibly, which means eschewing journal impact factors, h-indices and university rankings in research and researcher assessment. They also commit to share and evaluate new practices and to report within the coalition on progress made. Signatories will publish a defined action plan by the end of 2023 or within one year of signing the Agreement; they also aim to have worked through at least one cycle of review and development of their assessment criteria, tools and processes within 5 years or by the end of 2027.
Some DORA organizational signatories may be asking themselves whether they should also sign this new European-led Agreement. We believe they should feel free to make that choice. We can envisage two possible scenarios.
In the first, an institution that has signed DORA but not yet travelled far down the road to reform could opt to sign the Agreement and join the coalition as a way of demonstrating a commitment to practical reform and participating in that endeavor with other research organizations. The Agreement aligns with the spirit of DORA, so any decision-making process could be fast-tracked by the organizational leadership.
In the second, if the institution has already implemented their commitment to DORA by reforming their research assessment practices, they may feel there is not a particular advantage in signing up. Nevertheless, they could still choose to sign the Agreement to offer the benefit of their experience to other members of the coalition. DORA has long advocated for collaborative and international approaches to reform research assessment.
Either way, DORA is always interested to hear from organizations that have succeeded in creating new pathways to responsible research assessment, since they provide valuable additions to our growing library of good practice case studies.
Stephen Curry is Chair of DORA’s Steering Committee