European Commission’s Action Plan: The role of OPUS in advancing research assessment reform

European Commission’s Action Plan: The role of OPUS in advancing research assessment reform 1024 507 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

The recent Action Plan by the Commission to implement the ten commitments of the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment (ARRA) highlights the OPUS project as a particularly relevant initiative for advancing research assessment reform. OPUS will develop a set of interventions for Open Science aimed at creating a system that incentivizes and rewards researchers for adopting practices such as providing open access to research outputs, early and open sharing of research, participating in open peer review, implementing measures to ensure reproducibility of results, and involving all stakeholders in co-creation.

The Action Plan, recently published, outlines the ten commitments of the Action Plan by the Commission to implement the ten commitments of the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment (ARRA) and highlights the ongoing actions by the European Commission (EC) to address each one, with plans for further implementation in the upcoming Framework Program for Research and Innovation (FP10). The Commission has already made strides in integrating a more comprehensive set of evaluation criteria into the Horizon Europe main Work Programme, which includes assessing Open Science practices, gender considerations, and diverse research outputs. Looking ahead, the Commission has detailed a series of steps to support and advance research assessment reform. These steps include identifying potential improvements in evaluation criteria, enhancing guidance and training for peer reviewers, and fostering mutual learning through collaborations such as the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA).

The Commission has already initiated the funding of projects that contribute to research assessment reforms by evaluating and piloting practices, gathering new evidence, and supporting data sharing and the development of indicators. The following Horizon Europe projects are particularly relevant: PathOS – Open Science Impact Pathways (Research and Innovation action; €1,999,990 EU contribution), OPUS – Open Universal Science (Coordination and Support action; €1,726,898 EU contribution), GraspOS – Next Generation Research Assessment to Promote Open Science (Research and Innovation action; €2,985,441 EU contribution), and SciLake – Democratising and Making Sense of Heterogeneous Scholarly Content (Research and Innovation action; €4,809,450 EU contribution).

The Commission will map the research and innovation projects, as well as other coordination and support actions, already funded through the Horizon Framework Programme that contribute to the reform of research assessment. Additionally, the Commission will identify the main contributions and recommendations from these projects for research assessment reforms and CoARA work, and will also identify potential new research and innovation actions needed.

The implementation of the ten commitments in the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment (ARRA) will be guided by the ten principles also included in the Agreement:

  • Commitment 1: Recognize the diversity of contributions to, and careers in, research in accordance with the needs and nature of the research.
  • Commitment 2: Base research assessment primarily on qualitative evaluation, with peer review being central, supported by the responsible use of quantitative indicators.
  • Commitment 3: Abandon inappropriate uses of journal- and publication-based metrics in research assessment, particularly the inappropriate uses of Journal Impact Factor (JIF) and h-index.
  • Commitment 4: Avoid the use of rankings of research organizations in research assessment.
  • Commitment 5: Commit resources to reforming research assessment as needed to achieve the organizational changes committed to.
  • Commitment 6: Review and develop research assessment criteria, tools, and processes.
  • Commitment 7: Raise awareness of research assessment reform and provide transparent communication, guidance, and training on assessment criteria and processes as well as their use.
  • Commitment 8: Exchange practices and experiences to enable mutual learning within and beyond the Coalition.
  • Commitment 9: Communicate progress made on adherence to the principles and implementation of the commitments.
  • Commitment 10: Evaluate practices, criteria, and tools based on solid evidence and the state-of-the-art in research on research, and make data openly available for evidence gathering and research.
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