The University of Luxembourg signs the San Francisco declaration on research assessment
23/04/2021

The San Francisco Declaration On Research Assessment (commonly known as DORA) was formulated in 2012 as a warning against abuses and misuses of simple publication metrics - starting with the journal impact factor - for individual research assessment. It provides recommendations targeted at various stakeholders of the research ecosystem: institutions, funding agencies, scientific journals, researchers themselves, etc. and notably stresses the need to take into account a broader variety of research outputs in individual and collective evaluations.


It’s been 10 years since the initial declaration. The landscape of scientific publication has considerably evolved, with an overall drift towards open science, causing important shifts in business models. Journal metrics have changed, diversified, become more complex, but still play a major role overall, in publishers' development strategies and research evaluation, at institutional and individual level. The call to watchfulness against the misuses of crude metrics as a surrogate for an evaluation of research quality remains relevant. Over the past 10 years, DORA has grown into an organization and a resource for sharing experience and searching for inspiration in good practices of research assessment.

For the University of Luxembourg (UL), as a research performing institution, this signature is a commitment to good practices in individual research evaluation, particularly in our hiring and promotion policies. It follows a comprehensive consultation process with the research community, as well as reviews of existing university policies in the spirit of DORA. DORA guidelines were recently taken into account when setting up the evaluations for the Institute for Advanced Studies, or when formulating Tenure Track criteria, further actions such as the DORA compliance of job adverts or recommendations for committees will follow; it will also be a concern at this period of times, as research KPIs are currently discussed for the next 4-year plan.

This commitment is not a drastic change nor a bold claim to exemplarity as fairness and transparency have been a concern for a long time. It is rather a call for caution in our current practices, a goal for our future initiatives, and an encouragement for the research community to commit, define and defend what makes relevant and valuable research outputs. In doing so, it is clear that moving away from the pure impact factors does not mean that citations of a specific article have no value, nor should it prevent you from selecting your journals carefully. Publishers and journals are not all equal in their services to the research community, starting with the quality and rigour of their peer review, or the efficiency of their publishing process, yet this complexity cannot be captured in simple numbers.

By signing DORA, the UL joins other Luxembourgish signatories, and especially the FNR, whose recent changes in regulations (explicit ban of impact factors from publication lists, narrative CV etc.) show their efforts to comply with the DORA principles.

For further questions, please contact Mael Guennou, who is the Chargé de Mission of the Rectorate for Open Science.

 

Mael Guennou

Jens Kreisel