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EUROPEAN COMMISSIONDirectorate-General for Research Directorate C - European Research Area: Knowledge-Based Economy Unit C.4 - Universities and Researchers Contact: Adeline Kroll European Commission Office SDME 9/17 B-1049 Brussels Tel. (32-2) 29-85812 Fax (32-2) 29-64287 E-mail: Adeline.Kroll@ec.europa.eu
EUROPEAN COMMISSIONAssessing Europe’s University-Based Research Expert Group on Assessment of University-Based Research RTD.C4 Directorate-General for Research 2010 Science in Society 2008 Capacities, 1.4.1 EUR 24187 EN EUROPE DIRECT is a service to help you find answers to your questions about the European Union
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Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2010 ISBN 978-92-79-14225-3 ISSN 1018-5593 doi 10.2777/80193 © European Union, 2010 Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
Printed in Belgium Printed on white chlorine-free PaPer FOREWORD How to create a new and more coherent methodology to assess the research produced by European universities?” This is the question experts were asked to answer, following a 2006 Commission Communication on the modernisation of universities1, which suggested that universities should become more specialised and concentrate on working to their specific strengths.
Universities rankings are increasingly popular. Today, 33 countries have some form of ranking system operated by government and accreditation agencies, higher education, research and commercial organisations, or the media. The most popular are the Shangai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities and the Times QS World University Ranking.
Rankings are used for specific and different purposes. Politicians regularly refer to them as a measurement of their nation’s economic strength and aspirations. Universities use them to define performance targets and implement marketing activities, while academics use rankings to support their own professional reputation and status. Students use rankings to choose their potential place of study and research. Public and private stakeholders use rankings to guide their decisions about funding allocations. What started out as a consumer product aimed at undergraduate domestic students has now become both a manifestation and a driver of global competition and a battle for excellence in itself.
However while there are over 17,000 higher education institutions worldwide, rankings concentrate interest only in the world’s top 100.
In addition, if higher education is one of the engines of the economy and a key point on the ‘knowledge triangle’, then the productivity, quality and status of research produced by universities is a vital indicator. Hence the importance of designing a way to evaluate it which is truly fit for purpose. But, as always, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution! A new methodology will have to be developed. Ideally the best would be applicable across a full range of disciplines, including interdisciplinary research. It should assume an inclusive notion of research, ranging from blue sky/curiosity-driven to user-led/practicebased research. At present, some rankings include metrics on teaching and learning, most are focused on life-science research.
Users too have their own specific needs. And, depending on what they want to find out, they should be provided with a broad range of answers.
For example, a prospective student might look for information on a specific discipline, on future employability, or on the fees associated with the university of their choice. A ranking system of this kind does exist for students, but at the moment only in Germany. The level at which the quality of research is assessed also matters. Ranking universities as entire institutions may not be the most appropriate way to identify where the best research is done and how it is done. A university may be renowned for one or two departments, but may not be excellent in all disciplines it offers. Identifying more precisely where research is produced and disseminated should allow for a better assessment of university-based research.
I believe that the coexistence of different models to assess universitybased research is not only inevitable, but healthy. We need to design flexible and multidimensional methodologies that will adapt to the diverse and complex nature of research, disciplines and of our universities. In its quest for excellence, the European Commission must and will encourage, promote and support every effort to understand and monitor the quality of research at universities.
I wish to end with a simple quote from someone who understood better than anyone else the value of freedom, creativity and knowledge: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” This sign was hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton. Let us take the time now to see what really counts when we rank our universities, these most important of our knowledge powerhouses.
Commissioner Janez Potočnik 1 Overview
1.1 The Way Forward – Recommendations
1.2 2 Introduction
University‐based Research in the Knowledge Economy
2.1 The European Policy Context
2.2 Measuring what Counts
2.3 Remit of Expert Group on Assessment of University‐based Research
2.5 Format of the Report
3 Characteristics of Research Assessment
3.1 An Inclusive Approach to Disciplines
3.2 Research Outlets and Outputs
3.3 Users and Uses
4 Measuring University-Based Research
4.1 Indicators and Disciplinary Practice
4.2 Unit of Assessment: Knowledge Clusters
4.4 Bibliometric Methods
4.7 Research Ethics
4.8 Social and Economic Impact and Benefits
4.9 Indicators and Their Dimensions
5 A Proposed Framework for Research Assessment
5.1 Lessons from Existing Practice
Framework for Research Assessment
5.3 Multidimensional Research Assessment Matrix
Limitations and Unintended Consequences
6.2 Good Practice
6.3 Contribution to Future Research Assessment Exercises
7 Appendix I. Activities and Membership of Expert Group on Assessment of UniversityBased Research
8 Appendix II. Glossary
9 Appendix III. Description of Indicators: Qualitative and Quantitative
RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS AND OUTPUTS
9.1 INDICATORS OF QUALITY AND SCHOLARLY IMPACT
9.2 PUBLICATIONS IN TOP‐RANKED, HIGH‐IMPACT JOURNALS
9.4 OTHER INDICATORS OF PEER ESTEEM
INDICATORS BASED ON HUMAN CAPITAL
9.5 RESEARCH ACTIVE ACADEMICS
9.6 RESEARCH OUTPUT PER ACADEMIC STAFF
9.7 NUMBER OF CO‐PUBLICATIONS
9.8 INDICATORS BASED ON INVESTMENT
INDICATORS OF ECONOMIC & SOCIAL BENEFITS
9.10 END‐USER ESTEEM
9.11 10 Appendix IV. Case Studies of the Research Assessment Experience
10.2 UNIVERSITÉ LIBRE DE BRUXELLES – BRUXELLES – BELGIUM
10.3 FINLAND (AALTO UNIVERSITY)
10.4 FINLAND (HELSINKI UNIVERSITY)
10.6 GERMANY ‐ FORSCHUNGSRATING (CONDUCTED BY WISSENSCHAFTSRAT............ 99
10.7 GERMANY ‐ CHE UNIVERSITYRANKING, CHE RESEARCHRANKING
10.8 GERMANY ‐ INITIATIVE FOR EXCELLENCE
10.15 UNITED KINGDOM
10.16 GLOBAL ‐ WEBOMETRICS
10.17 GLOBAL ‐ ACADEMIC RANKING OF WORLD UNIVERSITIES (ARWU)................. 134 10.18 GLOBAL ‐ THE‐QS WORLD UNIVERSITIES RANKING
GLOBAL ‐ PERFORMANCE RANKING OF SCIENTIFIC PAPERS FOR RESEARCH10.20 UNIVERSITIES
GLOBAL – THE LEIDEN RANKING
10.21 11 Appendix V. Bibliography
1.1 Executive Summary