New EU recommendations to improve research assessment


The Draft Council Conclusions on Research Assessment and Implementation of Open Science Policies, and Principles and Values of International Cooperation in Research and Innovation are currently being developed by the Research Working Party of the Council of the European Union. These papers support the Pact for Research and Innovation in Europe, and aim to transform the research sector by reforming the way in which research is assessed, creating open access to publicly-funded research, and furthering international cooperation in research and innovation. Foreseeably these Council Conclusions will be adopted by ministers responsible for research in their countries when they meet in the Competitiveness Council on 9-10 June 2022.

The paper on Research Assessment and Implementation of Open Science Policies recognizes the need for a renewed approach to research assessment. The Council Conclusion encourages the creation of a more balanced approach between the quantitative and the qualitative research evaluation.  This should reduce the focus on quantitative indicators such as the number of publications and the H-index, and instead should include assessing individual researchers, research teams and organisations, research infrastructures, along with the research outputs and projects. The document  is also promoting a more holistic approach to research assessment by suggesting more diverse career pathway for researchers, which should take into account all additional research and innovation activities such teaching, leadership roles, entrepreneurship, data management, and supporting informed policy making.

Due to the direct impact on researchers, ETUCE appreciates that the Council encourages including researchers and relevant stakeholders in the establishment of a broad coalition to develop and implement changes. Furthermore, it encourages Member States to promote the reform of the research assessment system at national and regional level in close collaboration with researchers, and while respecting the autonomy of research organisations. The Conclusion suggests that the European Universities Alliances could be used to test the transformation of research assessment systems, which cultivates the European agenda’s idea of transnational cooperation in the sector. The document invites  the European Commission to work on a regulatory framework that enables unrestricted access to and use of publicly-funded research results, publications and data for research purposes. This should consider that the authors of publications or their institutions should retain sufficient intellectual property rights to ensure open access to research.

Additionally, this idea of fostering open access to research is supported by the Council on Principles and Values of International Cooperation in Research and Innovation. This document invites the European Union’s key international partners to engage in multilateral dialogue on the principles and values of international research and innovation cooperation. This should contribute towards a common framework for balanced and mutually beneficial international cooperation to establish a common basis for the respect of principles and values. This framework will be used to encourage inclusivity by combating discrimination based on gender, race, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation. ETUCE welcomes that the Conclusion aims to further protect researchers by calling on the European Commission and Member States to foster and promote the improvement of the universal protection and enforcement of intellectual and industrial property rights, as well as ensuring the protection of privacy and personal data.