The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

SHU is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). The University has already adopted a guide to responsible research assessment that highlights the key role of peer review over the use of quantitative measures such as bibliometrics and alternative metrics.

DORA focuses on the particular problem of the misuse of Journal Impact Factors in the assessment of peer reviewed journal articles.

The key principle is:

“Do not use journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.”

The recommendations in DORA are not just about journal-based metrics. They are more widely applicable to research assessment and the use of qualitative versus quantitative assessment in general. Some of the key points in DORA are that:

  • the criteria used in hiring and promotion decisions should be clear.
  • the content of a paper is much more important than the identity of the journal in which it was published.
  • a broad range of impact measures should be considered, including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice.

The principles of DORA can be implemented in practice by ensuring that peer review is the key element of any research assessment process, whether that is of individual outputs or of a portfolio of work. Metrics can still be used as part of these assessments, but only as a complement to expert assessment of research outputs and only where those metrics are appropriate. Simply put, it is the quality of an output as assessed by peers that will be central to assessment, not where a piece of work was published, how many citations it has, or the social media reach scores (alternative metrics).

You can find out more about DORA in this presentation or by going to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

Please contact the Library Research Support team for advice and support about the choice and use of bibliometrics and alternative metrics to measure academic impact.