Redefining Impact in the Humanities and Social Sciences

On Wednesday April 3, 2019, we hosted a #sfDORA community interview with Janet Halliwell to learn more about the 2017 report from the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Canada, Approaches to Assessing Impacts in the Humanities and Social Sciences. We also wanted to hear about a new project she is working on to improve assessment in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) by creating a standardized vocabulary of terms related to research assessment.

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DORA 6 years out: A global community 14,000 strong

DORA turns 6 years old this week. Or, as we like to say, this year DORA reached 14,000—that’s how many people have signed DORA, and they come from more than 100 countries! Each signature represents an individual committed to improving research assessment in their community, in their corner of the world. And 1,300 organizations in more than 75 countries, in signing DORA, have publicly committed to improving their practices in research evaluation and to encouraging positive change in research culture.

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DORA – accentuating the positive

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) is well known for its strong position on the need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics in decisions on hiring, promotion, or funding of academics. As such, it is sometimes taken to be an initiative merely focused on criticising the undue influence of one specific metric, the journal impact factor (JIF). But to see DORA just in those terms overlooks the many positive prescriptions that the declaration lays out for how to reform research assessment

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Breaking habits: reducing bias in hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions

Researchers should not be evaluated based on factors outside of their control. While hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions in academia are in principle based on the merit of scholarly contributions, implicit biases influence who we hire and who we promote. Even if they are unintentional, biases have consequences.At the AAAS meeting in Washington, DC, this February, we explored approaches to addressing bias and increasing the diversity of the academic workforce in the session, “Academic Research Assessment: Reducing Biases in Evaluation."

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You’ve signed DORA, now what?

For the past five years, the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) has been a beacon illuminating the problems due to the excessive attention paid to journal metrics and pointing the way to improvements that can be made by all stakeholders involved in evaluating academic research and scholarship. Researchers, funders, universities and research institutes, publishers and metrics providers have all committed – at a minimum – not to “use journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.”

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