San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

Last modified: July 6, 2018

How is it related to research integrity?

Both, the pressure to publish and publication bias do generally not contribute to responsible research practices. On the contrary, they can stimulate questionable research practices such as selective reporting, HARKing and p-hacking. The DORA agreement provides recommendations on how scientific research should be evaluated by funding agencies, academic institutions, and other parties. It recognizes the various contributions of scientific research next to research articles, for instance, highly trained young scientists.

What is it?

To improve the ways in which the output of scientific research is evaluated “a group of editors and publishers of scholarly journals met during the Annual Meeting of The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in San Francisco, CA, on December 16, 2012. The group developed a set of recommendations, referred to as the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment.” Among others, DORA recommends to move away from journal impact factors (JIFs) as a measure of scientific quality. That was after all, not what the JIF was created for. Instead it was supposed to help librarians identify journals to purchase.

The following themes run through DORA:

  1. the need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations
  2. the need to assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published
  3. the need to capitalize on the opportunities provided by online publication (such as relaxing unnecessary limits on the number of words, figures, and references in articles, and exploring new indicators of significance and impact)

(source: DORA)

International support

Interested parties across countries and scientific disciplines are invited to sign the declaration. So far 495 organisations have signed the agreement (on 6th of July 2018). Among the signers are the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the European University Association and universities and research institutes in the United Kingdom, Norway, Switserland, and Germany. You can see a list of all signers here.

You can contact DORA if you know of research assessment methods that could provide inspiration and ideas for others.

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