The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

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The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) is an initiative to change the way that research is evaluated.

It centres on the belief there is an over-reliance on bibliometrics, such as the Journal Impact Factor, which is seen by many as flawed. Other key themes are that research needs to be evaluated on its own merit (not on which journal it’s published in) and that we need to make the best of the flexibility afforded by online publishing.

DORA makes a general recommendation that bibliometrics should not be used as a “surrogate measure” for the quality of research and then makes a number of specific recommendations for publishers, academic institutions, research funders, organisations that supply metrics and individual researchers. All the aforementioned are invited to sign DORA.

For a university, signing DORA would mean it is obliged to:

  • Be explicit about the criteria it uses for the assessment of research and researchers
  • Reinforce that the content of research is what is important (rather than what metric scores it has or what journal it is published in)
  • Consider the value and impact of all research outputs
  • Consider using a variety of measures to for the assessment of research and researchers

However, a professor at Imperial College London recently lamented that few UK universities have signed up, calling on more to do so or to explain their reasons for refusing.

*EDIT* For another perspective on the lack of UK universities signing up to DORA, see Is signing DORA that responsible? where Elizabeth Gadd asks “whether signing the DORA principles will give us a better outcome than developing our own locally relevant, properly debated, carefully implemented and monitored principles”.

Do you think DORA will help research?

Do you think the OU should sign up?

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