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The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

Effective as of 19 September 2014, the HFSP is one of the 517 institutional signatories of DORA, which is a declaration that challenges the role played by the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) as the main means for evaluating science.

DORA has been published in 2012 during the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) with the goal of “putting science into the assessment of research” and thereby promoting the assessment of research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published.

The declaration suggests a catalogue of measures and recommendations that are more apt in providing a fair and transparent assessment of research quality. For funding agencies in particular, DORA recommends the following list of practices in addressing research assessment (from a catalogue that also includes institutions, publishers, evaluating organizations, and individual researchers):

General Recommendation:

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.

For Funding Agencies:

Be explicit about the criteria used in evaluating the scientific productivity of grant applicants and clearly highlight, especially for early-stage investigators, that the scientific content of a paper is much more important than publication metrics or the identity of the journal in which it was published.

For the purposes of research assessment, consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets and software) in addition to research publications, and consider a broad range of impact measures including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice.

When evaluating research proposals, HFSP places a strong emphasis on the quality of the applicants’ research and not on JIF or the journal in which the article was published. The suggested practices pertaining to HFSP are already part of our application and review processes. Therefore accepting the DORA standard does not add new procedures to our existing work flow and HFSP will add explicit statements to all documents for applicants and reviewers of the HFSP grant, fellowship, and CDA competitions as of 2015.

The full text of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) is available here.