The SNSF has signed the DORA declaration and is now implementing it step by step.
How do you perform a fair assessment of scientific achievements? For a long time, the most important criterion was: have the researchers published articles in frequently cited journals? But the citation rate of a journal – or journal impact factor – does not allow an accurate and fair estimation of individual achievements. This is why the DORA declaration (San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment) recommends a more comprehensive approach.
The declaration was published in 2012 by the American cell biology society in collaboration with journalists and publishing houses. By August 2020, approximately 2000 scientific organisations and 16,000 researchers had signed the DORA declaration.
Changes in career funding
In August 2020, the SNSF adopted the DORA recommendations by its Compliance Committee for the SNSF career funding schemes as well as some other criteria. It will no longer consider the impact factors of scientific journals at any stage of the evaluation. From now on, the SNSF will give more weight to the quality of the research output as a whole. This includes publications as well as other areas such as cooperation with stakeholder groups, science outreach, datasets, software, patents, conference papers and prizes. In addition, the evaluators can rely on quantitative data related to individuals. This change will make the selection process even fairer and more inclusive for people with diverse career paths.
New scientific CV
The SNSF will introduce a new standardised CV format in autumn 2022. The aim is to facilitate comparisons between applicants and to make the evaluation of their scientific career more transparent. The new CV allows researchers to present their most important scientific contributions in the form of short narratives in combination with a limited number of research results, rather than extensive publication lists. This mixed approach will help promote equal opportunities and increase the visibility and value given to work other than publications, particularly for those disciplines and higher education institutions that are at a disadvantage in the race to publish.
Courses for evaluation bodies
The members of evaluation bodies are of key importance regarding implementation of the DORA recommendations. They will therefore receive special training from the SNSF, for instance in workshops with international experts.
The SNSF is looking into a number of further topics relating to implementation of the DORA recommendations:
- It is defining the concept of scientific excellence in the context of its evaluation of research proposals.
- In the selection process, it aims to separate the scientific evaluation from the funding decisions.
- How should applications that fall into the same quality category be treated? The SNSF intends to adapt evaluation processes to account for such cases.
- More weight will be given to the broader impact of projects in use-inspired basic research.