UCL Research


UCL and the San Francisco Declaration (DORA)

The San Francisco Declaration (DORA) aims to reform the way academic research quality is assessed and measured. UCL is committed to principles of DORA and working with partners to implement them.

In 2015, UCL signed the San Francisco Declaration on research assessment; 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.

Implementation and monitoring of DORA at UCL

In 2021, UCL remains committed to these principles and to working with the Wellcome Trust to implement them. In line with the Wellcome declaration on DORA, UCL affirms that it is committed to implementing the principles to which it has signed up.

UCL has a clear plan for developing policy and practice in this area. It has already delivered a Bibliometrics policy which was signed off by UCL Academic Committee in Spring 2020, which is fully aligned with DORA and the Leiden Manifesto and which has been hailed as ‘sector leading’. UCL has also developed a Careers Framework, which is fully aligned with Open Science practices. It has made Open Access to research outputs mandatory for all UCL researchers from Grade 7 to Grade 10.

UCL also holds frequent Open Science meetings and webinars, where the implications of implementing DORA are assessed and shared with the UCL community. There is also an Open Science blog and a large collection of relevant materials on the UCL Open Science website. Online training on Next Generation Metrics is available and DORA features in regular pan-UCL induction sessions for researchers new to UCL.

In terms of a more detailed implementation plan and the monitoring of its adoption, this work is overseen by the UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship. The Office has its own Steering Committee which reports to the UCL Open Science Committee, which is itself a Working Group of UCL Library Committee chaired by the Vice-Provost (Research). The UCL Open Science Committee meets three times a year and reports on activity in all areas of Open Science in UCL. Reports on implementation activity are made to the Open Science Committee. The current state of a formal Implementation Plan for UCL’s alignment with Wellcome’s adoption of DORA has been drawn up and will be formally signed off by UCL’s Open Science Committee in its first meeting of 2021.