UKRI signs San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment


UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has signed an international declaration aimed at strengthening and promoting best practice in the way research is assessed.

The San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA) recognises the need to improve the ways in which the outputs of research are evaluated with regards to appropriate use of metrics and makes high-level recommendations for how this can be achieved. DORA includes specific recommendations for funders and organisations that undertake evaluation.

The seven Research Councils* are current signatories, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England was a signatory. Research Councils UK (RCUK), the umbrella organisation for the seven Research Councils before the formation of UKRI, signed DORA in February 2018.

UKRI is a member of the Plan S coalition, an international initiative launched to make full and immediate open access to research publications a reality. Plan S recognises DORA and that research needs to be assessed on its own merits rather than on the venue of publication.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: “Signing the declaration underlines UKRI’s commitment to open access and promoting best practice in research assessment.

“UKRI has already taken steps to improve practices in line with DORA and we will work collaboratively across the sector to further implement its principles.”

Professor Stephen Curry, Chair of DORA, said: “We are delighted that UKRI has signed DORA. This sends a very powerful signal within and beyond the UK that funders are committing to reform of research evaluation.”

UKRI is engaged with improved practices in research assessment, such as DORA, for example:

  • As part of an action plan developed under Research Councils UK (RCUK), the seven Research Councils have reviewed their guidance to researchers applying for funding, and to reviewers in assessing these applications, in line with the DORA principles. The result will be standard wording to be used by the seven Research Councils.
  • Research Excellence Framework (REF) panels are briefed on DORA, and the REF2021 guidance for submitting institutions states that journal impact factors or hierarchy of journals will not be used in the assessment of outputs.

UKRI will work with stakeholder from across the sector to develop a strategy and action plan for further implementation of the DORA principles, including through the partnership with the UK Forum for Responsible Research Metrics.

*Arts and Humanities Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council, and Science and Technology Facilities Council.

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