February 28, 2019, by Rob Ounsworth

University signs the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

The University of Nottingham has signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which provides a code of best practice in research assessment to which institutions can subscribe.

Many funders of the University’s research have already signed DORA, including the research councils which make up UKRI, the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, and the Daphne Jackson Trust.

As a signatory of DORA, the University of Nottingham is committed to :

  • avoiding journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles
  • being explicit about the criteria used to reach hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions and foregrounding the scientific content of a paper
  • considering the value and impact of all research outputs and a broad range of impact measures.

University Executive Board approved the adoption of DORA by the UK campus in December 2018, and recognised the value of ongoing discussions about potential for adoption in Malaysia and China. It noted that the University’s use of research publication metrics was broadly in line with DORA’s recommendations but endorsed additional communications and support to embed best practice.

A working group on integrating DORA, led by Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange (Social Sciences) Professor Andy Noyes, will ensure DORA is reflected within core University processes including REF 2021 preparation and recruitment. Work will continue around equality, diversity and inclusion to influence and support the development of Human Resource processes and procedures.

Andy Noyes

Professor Andy Noyes

Professor Noyes said: “I’m delighted to be supporting our commitment to ensuring that our University processes reflect broad notions of academic value and that our decisions on research investment and reward are informed by the best possible range of evidence.”

Professor Noyes welcomes input from colleagues on the training and support that are needed to help embed DORA within the institution and its culture. He stressed that the working group would draw upon representation from across the academic community, and was particularly keen that early career researchers were included.

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange signed DORA on behalf of the University of Nottingham.

Dame Jessica said:

“Signing DORA signals a commitment to our staff, to our funders, and to the wider world, that we are committed to a fair and transparent approach to research assessment, which draws upon the best possible modern practice.”

She added: “It is important to recognise that world-leading research, with the potential to change lives here in the UK and across the world takes place at the University of Nottingham – but the fact some of this is not published in high-profile journals should not detract from its value.”

The University encourages you to show your support by featuring a DORA badge on emails or social media, and would note that individuals may also sign to indicate their commitment to its principles for researchers. Current internal guidance about publication metrics can be found in the University of Nottingham Publication Framework and the activities of the working group can be followed here 

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