The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

Discover why we've signed this declaration which seeks to improve how scientific research is evaluated.

What is the Declaration on Research Assessment?

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) is a worldwide initiative, which can be supported by both individuals and institutions, funders and publishers. It recognises that the evaluation of scholarly and research outputs should be based on the merits of those individual outputs, rather than on journal-level metrics such as journal impact factor.

Why is this a good thing?

We know from the literature that metrics which are not output-specific tend to favour white, male authors. It is important that the work of all our researchers is assessed on its merits and that circumstances such as career breaks are taken into account when considering the volume of research output.

Output-specific metrics may have their place provided we are clear about how they are being used. Raising awareness of these issues is also a way to empower researchers to challenge practices they see which are not in the spirit of DORA.

What does it mean at Sheffield?

The declaration encourages institutions to be clear about the criteria they use for recruitment and promotion decisions. Our Academic Career Pathways guidance sets out the criteria for research at different stages of careers.

In undertaking the assessment of potential outputs for submission to the Research Excellence Frameworks (REF), our guidance to Unit REF committees is for the committee to read outputs and agree a star rating and relative ranking. This work should not be based on journal-level metrics.

Some of our faculties use an internal system of academic metrics as part of SRDS and annual research planning. We need to ensure that these academic metrics do not take into account metrics which do not relate to the individuals.