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UCL signs San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment

20 January 2015

UCL has signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DoRA), which acknowledges weaknesses in the use of the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) as a measure of quality, since this measure relates to journals as a whole and not to individual articles. Recognising that research results in outputs other than journal articles, DoRA also attempts to identify new routes to research evaluation.

Universities who sign DoRA should:

  • be explicit about the criteria used to reach hiring, tenure and promotion decisions, clearly highlighting, especially for early-stage investigators, that the scientific content of a paper is much more important than publication metrics or the identity of the journal in which it was published
  • for the purposes of research assessment, consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets and software) in addition to research publications, and consider a broad range of impact measures including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice.

Researchers should:

  • make assessments based on scientific content rather than publication metrics, when involved in committees making decisions about funding, hiring, tenure, or promotion
  • wherever appropriate, cite primary literature in which observations are first reported rather than reviews in order to give credit where credit is due
  • use a range of article metrics and indicators on personal/supporting statements, as evidence of the impact of individual published articles and other research outputs
  • challenge research assessment practices that rely inappropriately on JIF, and promote and teach best practice that focuses on the value and influence of specific research outputs.

The move to find new ways to assess quality in research outputs is fully in line with the wishes of research funders, notably the European Commission, the Wellcome Trust and HEFCE.

The UCL Bibliometrics Working Group is now:

  • investigating and identifying new methods for the evaluation of research, in a global context
  • developing recommendations for how these approaches can be adopted in UCL
  • overseeing the construction of a communications strategy to UCL researchers to advocate UCL’s work in this area.