Umeå University has joined CoARA and is committed to actively reforming research evaluation and merit systems. Pro-vice-chancellor Katrine Riklund participated in the Coalition's Constitutive assembly (CA).
Text: Sanna Isabel Ulfsparre
Umeå University is now a member of CoARA, the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment. Through its membership, the university commits itself to actively reforming its systems for research assessment and merit and contributing to developments nationally and internationally. Pro-vice-chancellor Katrine Riklund participated in the Constitutive assembly (CA) of CoARA on 1 December.
- It is essential that we are involved in this work, says Riklund. Already at this meeting, there were discussions on which areas CoARA should work on first.
More than 300 organisations attended the assembly, of which 62% were Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), and 13% were research centres or institutes. The list of member organisations is constantly growing. Rianne Lerschert was elected chair of the coalition. She expressed the need for a better balance in how research is recognised and rewarded and the urgent need for a greater diversity of career paths in academia.
A broad international consensus
International consensus is often highlighted as a necessary condition for adjusting current systems for evaluating and rewarding research. Such consensus is critical to avoid researchers getting caught between the demands and priorities of different assessment systems. Otherwise, researchers may, for example, find themselves trying to comply with one system rewarding open access (OA) publishing and another system that rewards publishing in a few high-status channels where OA publishing might be difficult. Such clashes would make it difficult or impossible for researchers to meet all aspects and expectations and make good career choices.
CoARA was developed through a broad collaboration between organisations and at the initiative of the European Commission (EC), together with Science Europe and the European University Association (EUA). The broad-based preparatory work puts CoARA in a position to become a significant player in developing research assessment and reward systems on international and global levels.
Criteria, tools and processes for evaluation and merit assessment will be reviewed and developed in line with CoARA commitments. By the end of 2023, the university should be able to demonstrate that we have begun reforming our evaluation and merit assessment systems. At that point, other members of CoARA, and individuals and organisations within the university's community, will be able to gain insight into the process.
After 2023, the reforming work should be continuously documented and demonstrated. By 2027 the entire system of criteria, tools and processes should have been evaluated and worked through at least once.
The role of the library
This autumn saw a strengthening of the university library's role in providing management support on issues related to research assessment.
Kristoffer Lindell, Head of the Department of Scholarly Communication, Umeå university library
- The library will support the university in its work with CoARA, with a particular focus on information and indicators used for different types of research evaluations, says Kristoffer Lindell, head of the Scholarly Communications Department at the library.
- It is also important to increase the understanding of the tools, criteria and processes used for research evaluation and how they affect the results. It will be interesting to see how the use of metrics evolves. A key is to have high-quality metadata on which to base quality assurance work, and the library has solid expertise in these areas, concludes Lindell.