KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) and ZonMw (Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) will sign the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) on 18 April.
DORA is a global initiative that aims to reduce dependence on bibliometric indicators (such as publications and citations) in the evaluation of research and researchers, and increase the use of other criteria. The declaration outlines a set of recommendations on how to improve research evaluation. KNAW, NWO and ZonMw fully endorse the principles laid out in the DORA declaration and will adapt their own procedures to it.
The DORA declaration was published in 2012 and targets research funders, publishers, research institutes and researchers. The declaration has already been signed by more than 1,200 organisations and almost 14,000 researchers around the world.
Signing the DORA declaration fits within the broader aim of developing new approaches for recognising and valuing researchers in the Netherlands. Moreover, this coincides with the transition to open science and open access. The key aim is to evaluate research and researchers on their merits.
Signing DORA means that organisations have to align their practices and procedures with the principles in this declaration. DORA is about more than just that, however. Endorsing the values of DORA requires a broader discussion within the scientific community about how researchers evaluate (each other) and about the criteria for evaluating scientific quality.
KNAW, NWO and VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands, which had already signed the declaration) will team up to ensure that the DORA principles become firmly entrenched during the forthcoming review of the standard evaluation protocol (SEP).
As far as the KNAW and NWO institutes are concerned, staff policy will be made DORA-proof where necessary. Indeed, more attention will be devoted to the value of the content and the impact of the research, and other forms of output like citations or impact factors of journals will be taken into account as well. On 23 May, ZonMw and NWO are organising the conference 'Evolution or revolution?' to launch a discussion about rethinking how we recognise and value scientists. KNAW is organising a gathering for its members on 7 June to discuss the significance of DORA.
As a result of having signed the DORA declaration, NWO and ZonMw are planning to take the following concrete steps:
KNAW has further adapted its procedures and practices to the DORA principles during the past period. The guidelines for nominating members to KNAW and The Young Academy are already DORA-proof. The guidelines for awards and funding handled by KNAW will be brought more in line with the DORA principles.
In the coming period, KNAW will also focus on DORA’s points of departure by facilitating discussions between scientists. What are the benchmarks for evaluating quality? What kinds of opportunities have presented themselves? As a scientist, how do you proceed in practice when you have to evaluate dossiers as a member of an appointment committee, as a department head or as a peer reviewer for grants or for nominations and recommendations?
This discussion, which is already being conducted in various juries and committees, will take place during a member gathering on this theme on 7 June, for example.