WIT is the first HEI in Ireland to sign the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) which recognises wider ways of disseminating research
Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) in July 2020 which recommends a change in how the impact and quality of research can be measured and rewarded. Currently, many HEI’s measure research impact based on the number of journal publications whereas DORA recognises a multitude of research impact factors such as economic, media engagement, reliability and job creation.
WIT is the only Irish 3rd level institution to sign the declaration so far. Signing DORA brings WIT into alignment with the key Irish funding institutions that are already taking an enlightened approach to research assessment. These are Health Research Board (HRB), Ireland, Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.
By signing DORA, WIT is strengthening its commitment to responsible research assessment and will remain focused on the declaration’s primary recommendation: to encourage a holistic assessment of the diversity and quality of an individual scientist’s contributions in hiring, promotion, and in funding decisions. This means that assessment of quality of research should focus more on the research outputs itself rather than on numbers. This approach to measuring research impact will have a profound effect on organisations who follow industry trends as WIT will be at the forefront of research dissemination.
Dr Mark White, Vice President of Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies at WIT indicated that “The adoption of this declaration challenges all of us in WIT to examine our practices and it will require changes in our culture and behaviour to ensure that academic hiring, promotion and funding decisions focus on the qualities of research that are most desirable – insight, impact, reliability and reusability – rather than on a journal impact factor alone.”
David Kane, Systems Librarian and Repository Manager said, “DORA is consonant with European open research policy – the recommendations of the European Open Science Policy Platform, and our own National Framework on the Transition to an Open Research Environment. Part of the expression of open research is the use of truer measures of the value of research and its impact on society.”
Commenting on the importance of the declaration for WIT, Professor Willie Donnelly, President of WIT highlighted the importance of publicly committing to international research initiatives such as DORA and stated: “Dora gives WIT the opportunity to formally evaluate itself against the best principles of research practice globally. We are regularly commended for our research performances. However, the DORA principles now allow us to assess the translation and impact of that research performance across a number of domains. WIT research has a lot of ‘firsts’ to its name, I am truly delighted to be leading the first higher education institution in Ireland to publicly commit to expanding its paradigm and understanding of research impact.”
DORA has attracted 16,137 individual and 1,984 organisational signatories to date. There is an emerging recognition that great, impactful research is a team effort which requires diverse skills and generates diverse outputs. In this regard, all contributions, including data, software, impact on policy, patents, etc., should be recognised and incentivised. Individuals, as well as institutions, may also sign the declaration, and WIT encourages its entire staff to do this.
The institute’s signing of the declaration will support the real improvements in research assessment being implemented at WIT, as outlined in its Definition and Organization of Research policy. Support for the DORA principles is already echoed in some of WIT’s other research policies like the Open Research Policy and the Authorship and Data Retention Policy.