Paris Open Science Conference Call backs European Commission Efforts to Overhaul Research Assessment

Conference organised by the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union publishes call backing European Commission plans to broaden scope of researcher assessment beyond number of publications and citations.

The Open Science European Conference (OSEC) 2022, under the auspices of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, has published a call prepared by the French Open Science Committee backing European Commission plans to overhaul the way in which researchers are assessed within Europe.

The call urges a shift away from the current focus on the number of publications made in high impact journals and citations to a broader focus on the overall merits of research as well as a more diverse set of outputs, such as societal impacts, patents and the use of citizen science.

The call supports the European Commission’s European Research Area (ERA) Policy Agenda (2022-2024), published in November 2021. This set out 20 voluntary actions that would contribute to the Pact for Research and Innovation, which defines common values and principles for research and innovation in Europe.

One of the 20 actions contained in the ERA Policy Agenda is to ‘advance towards the reform the assessment system for research, researchers and institutions to improve their quality, performance and impact’. This action criticises the ‘inappropriate’ and ‘narrow’ methods of research assessment, and looks to achieve change through a wide coalition of willing partners throughout Europe. The publication of the ERA Policy Agenda was swiftly followed by the Commission’s Towards a reform of the research assessment system: scoping report, which presented findings from a consultation examining how to facilitate and speed up changes.

The call published at OSEC 2022 adds further impetus to the plans to reform research assessment and advocates for research to be evaluated according to its merits and impact based on qualitative judgement from scientific peers and supported by a new quantitative indicators.

The call specifically argues for a research assessment system that:

  • Rewards quality and the various impacts of research.
  • Ensures that research meets the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
  • Values the diversity of research activities and outputs such as publications and preprints, data, methods, software, code and patents, as well as their societal impacts and activities related to training, innovation and public engagement.
  • Uses assessment criteria and processes that respect the variety of research disciplines.
  • Rewards not only research outputs, but also the appropriate conduct of research, and values good practices, in particular open practices for sharing research results and methodologies whenever possible.
  • Values collaborative work, as well as cross-disciplinarity and citizen science, when appropriate.
  • Supports a diversity of researcher profiles and career paths.

The call also urges the establishment of a coalition of research funding organisations, research performing organisations, and assessment authorities dedicated to reforming the current research assessment system along commonly agreed objectives, principles and actions (such as mutual learning, shared documentation and commonly agreed monitoring effort). This coalition must be capable of proposing concrete implementation processes and involving researchers at all levels.

The call can be accessed in full at the OSEC 2022 website.