On December 1, CoARA was formed with the participation of the UOC, among the more than 300 signatory entities (photo: Mikael Kristenson / unsplash.com)
Rubén Permuy Iglesias
The university has joined this global initiative for qualitative research assessment, which is consistent with its Open Knowledge Action Plan
The UOC has been working to change the research assessment model since 2019, when it signed the San Francisco Declaration
Last January, more than 300 entities from over 40 countries reached consensus regarding what needed to be done to drive reforms in research assessment making qualitative criteria the key factor. Universities, research centres, funding bodies, assessment agencies and other organizations all worked together to draw up the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment. The initiative completed its launch on 1 December with the creation of the international Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA), one of the member organizations of which is the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).
Signed organizations making up CoARA – including more than 30 Spanish universities, Crue Universidades Españolas (CRUE), the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and funding and assessment agencies such as the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU Catalunya) – the agreement "is based on qualitative research assessment, peer review and a responsible use of quantitative indicators", said Pastora Martínez Samper, UOC vice president for Globalization and Cooperation, who attended the coalition's constitutive assembly. She explained that the initiative aims to "evolve the current assessment system, in which a decontextualized quantitative approach usually weighs too heavily".
Marta Aymerich, UOC vice president for Strategic Planning and Research, said: "CoARA proposes that each institution draw up its own plan to reform research assessment, promoting higher-quality scientific activity by recognizing the diverse range of academic contributions, profiles and careers in keeping with the needs and nature of research". For Aymerich, CoARA "means engaging in mutual learning between institutions and taking part in the movement that will mark a turning point in the way research is carried out, in order to ensure more thorough responses to society's challenges".
CoARA's ten commitments
The pre-coalition agreement is built around ten commitments. For example: recognize the diversity of contributions to, and careers in, research; assess research using qualitative models, supported by a responsible use of quantitative indicators; abandon inappropriate uses of journal- and publication-based metrics, in particular inappropriate uses of so-called "journal impact factors", which measure the visibility of journals but not the quality of individual articles, and the h-index, which is calculated based on a researcher's most-cited publications and the citations received by each one; and avoid the use of rankings of international organizations in research assessment.
The institutions having signed the CoARA agreement also pledge to commit resources to reforming research assessment; review and develop criteria, tools and processes for assessing scientific activity; and raise awareness of, and train their staff on, this reform.
Finally, the members of the coalition agree to exchange practices and experiences to enable mutual learning; communicate progress made on adherence to the principles and implementation of the commitments; and evaluate practices, criteria and tools based on solid evidence pertaining to research assessment.
The UOC's roadmap
Through its Open Knowledge Action Plan, the UOC is also doing its part to reform research assessment towards a more qualitative model. This began in 2019, when it signed the San Francisco Declaration (DORA), an international movement to promote quality-based research assessment. Its involvement in CoARA is in addition to its Plan for Advancing Research Assessment, a part of the UOC Insight section of its Strategic Plan 2022-2025, which focuses on fostering transformative, high-quality research.
CoARA is an international coalition of research-performing organizations, such as the UOC, funding bodies, assessment authorities and agencies, as well as associations of research organizations, scientific associations and other relevant bodies, which are working together to improve research assessment practices. The coalition has an interim secretariat composed of Science Europe, the European University Association (EUA) and the European Commission. The official launch of CoARA took place on 1 December during a constitutive assembly attended by its members and at which its steering board was appointed.
The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century, by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health.
The UOC's research is conducted by over 500 researchers and 51 research groups distributed between the university's seven faculties, the E-learning Research programme, and two research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and the eHealth Center (eHC).
The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open knowledge serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information: research.uoc.edu
Pastora Martínez Samper
Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation
Expert in: Management and assessment of research, responsible research and innovation, and open science.
Knowledge area: Political science.