Revisiting Research Career Assessment

The right to knowledge is a fundamental human right as an integral part of the right to education. However today, we are still a long way from recognizing knowledge as a public good, particularly in the scholarly field, where knowledge is produced through research and disseminated through publications which, in most cases, are accessible only upon payment. Most publications that are openly accessible have costed their author(s) à publishing fee (article processing charge, APC) the price of which is related to the publisher’s prestige. This has led to a flourishing business for publishers who have built up huge multinational consortia with sales in the hundreds of billions of dollars and profit margins of 40% and more. Such profits are all the more unreasonable as they are made up mainly of public funding.

Imprisoned in a system of evaluation based on prestige, researchers are now facing the need to regain control of their mode of communication and must then submit to new rules of evaluation that better reflect their true value and their contribution to the community.

The means exist today to meet these conditions, with the principles of Open Science.

However, if Open Science is to be established on a global scale, a profound change is needed in the mentality of the world scientific community, starting with the customs and traditions of evaluators of all kinds, those who are called upon to judge the quality of a research project, a research team or even a researcher. This researcher will never embark on the path of Open Science, however beneficial it may be in terms of cooperation and sharing of public knowledge and know-how, if he or she cannot have confidence in the criteria that will actually be examined in his or her evaluation.

« No Open Science without a revisited evaluation ».

Ideas for reforming the assessment of researchers’ careers have been discussed and encouraged. It is now useful to make them known, to measure their initial effects, to bring together the various areas of expertise, to become familiar with the practices developed in the various universities and to try to find ways that are acceptable to all. Such ways should not undermine the high standards of quality desired for research and should constitute a real encouragement for the young generation of researchers to adopt and promote the values of Open Science.

This is why the EUA, wishing to promote the principles of Open Science in Europe, has decided to organise its ACATOS « Academic Career Assessment in the Transition to Open Science » workshops. The first was held on 14 May 2019 in Brussels and the second will take place in Oslo on 18 May this year.

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