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CAUT signs the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

(Ottawa — January 13, 2021) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), an international initiative to address the overreliance on journal-based metrics in hiring, promotion, and funding decisions and to promote and support equity in the academy.

“Measuring teaching, research, creative activities, service, and/or professional practice with an exclusive or excessive emphasis on performance metrics neglects the diversity and totality of scholarly activity,” said CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith.

DORA is an international initiative to support and promote best practice in assessment of scholarly research. It recognizes that outputs from scientific research cannot be summed up with metrics. More than 1550 organizations and 15 000 individuals have signed the Declaration, including the Canadian research funding agencies.

DORA recommendations call on signatories to support the adoption of the following practices in research assessment:

  • The elimination of the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations;
  • The assessment of research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published; and,
  • The promotion and teaching of best practice that focuses on the value and influence of specific research outputs.

“High quality research is multifaceted, can reflect varying types of knowledge and ways of knowing and must be assessed on its own merit. Academic staff associations are urged to improve the way in which the quality of research output is evaluated and to bargain for language in their collective agreements that protects their members against the use of performance metrics,” added Austin-Smith.