Uniarts Helsinki signs the DORA declaration

Uniarts Helsinki has joined the group of signatories of the international DORA declaration. The organisations and individuals that have signed the declaration commit to improving assessment of scientific merits by making assessments transparent, fair and more well-rounded.

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) is a worldwide initiative that aims at responsible and fair assessment of researchers and research. Published in 2012, the declaration lays out recommendations concerning research assessment for various operators, including higher education institutions and research organisations. The declaration has been translated into several languages and it has so far been signed by over 2,300 organisations and 17,000 private individuals from across the world. In Finland, the declaration has been signed by several higher education institutions, the Academy of Finland and the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, for example.

Uniarts Helsinki signed the DORA declaration on 7 May 2021 after the executive group gave its support for the matter. 

“Uniarts Helsinki finds it important to act responsibly and by using a range of methods in all assessment activities. The DORA declaration calls for multifaceted and comprehensive assessment of research and researchers, which is undeniably worth endorsing,” says Uniarts Helsinki’s Vice Rector for Research Jaana Erkkilä-Hill.

Scientific and artistic merits are the primary criteria

The main message in the DORA declaration is to prioritise qualitative assessment. The declaration highlights scientific and artistic merits as the primary criteria when assessing publications. First and foremost, researchers’ merits should be assessed as a whole, not only by using quantitative indicators.

The declaration lists eighteen recommendations for various operators. The recommendations that are aimed at institutions emphasise the importance of stating assessment criteria explicitly and clearly. Furthermore, the recommendations urge operators to consider the value and impact of all research outputs, including artistic outputs, and to adopt a broad range of impact measures, including qualitative indicators of research impact.

The Journal Impact Factor – from library use to a research assessment tool

The declaration also points out the problems related to the use of the Journal Impact Factor. The Journal Impact Factor was originally created as a tool to help librarians identify journals to purchase.

However, the Journal Impact Factor is now frequently used as one of the indicators when comparing the scientific output of individuals and institutions. The DORA declaration highlights that publications should not be assessed based on their publication channel and that research outputs should be assessed by using a broad range of indicators, which is in line with the goal of promoting open science.