EPFL joins the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA)

© 2024 EPFL

© 2024 EPFL

In January 2024, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) officially joined the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA), marking a significant step in reshaping research assessment practices. This signature follows a recent roundtable discussion at the institution, where key stakeholders explored the complexities of research evaluation and Open Science (OS).

The roundtable gathered scientists from different disciplines and holding different positions across campus: Dr. Gilles Dubochet, head of Open Science; Prof. Sofia Olhede, head of the CEAE - Comité d'Evaluation Académique de l'EPFL; Prof. Jérôme Waser, member of the OSSC - Open Science Strategic Committee; and Dr. Daniel Probst, postdoctoral fellow. It was chaired by VPA Prof. Jan Hesthaven, who highlighted the important of research assessment processes as one of the main keys that define an institution and set its direction forward.

Gilles elucidated the essence of the Coalition for Reforming Research Assessment (CoARA), emphasizing its role in steering institutions towards a process-oriented approach to research assessment. While EPFL is inclined to sign CoARA due to shared principles, the discussion also delved into the nuances of its implementation within the institution. Participants explored the need for clarity on how CoARA's principles align with existing mechanisms at EPFL.

Participants engaged in a discussion on the challenges inherent in fair and equitable research assessment practices. Drawing on diverse disciplinary perspectives, they highlighted the multifaceted nature of scholarly contributions and the limitations of traditional metrics in capturing their full impact.
Sofia warranted caution to avoid hastily implementing changes in the desire to rectify all issues. She pointed to the previous transition from qualitative to quantitative evaluation criteria, which are now being reevaluated as the research community acknowledges that metrics alone cannot ensure fairness.

The conversation underscored the diversity of ways to do Open Science, with participants offering insights from their respective fields and experiences. Daniel shed light on the significance of open-source software and the challenges of maintaining such projects. Jerome emphasized the importance of data accessibility and machine readability, particularly in experimental sciences. These discussions highlighted the need for tailored approaches to Open Science that account for the unique characteristics of different disciplines.

While there was consensus on the need for research assessment practices to evolve, opinions varied on the most effective strategies for implementation. Some participants advocated for binding commitments akin to international climate goals, while others emphasized the value of decentralized, bottom-up approaches. Sofia stressed the importance of EPFL developing its own perspective on research assessment to avoid adopting externally imposed frameworks.

EPFL's commitment to signing CoARA signals a proactive stance towards reshaping research assessment practices, from career assessment to institutional metrics, with a specific focus on Open Science and building a coherent framework to englobe qualitative and quantitative criteria. Key stakeholders across EPFL will coordinate to ensure a cohesive approach to this mission and members will actively participate in CoARA's working groups to refine and implement best practices on campus. The goal is to develop practices that reflect EPFL's commitment to excellence, fairness, and innovation in research assessment.

Author: Noémie Mazaré

Source: Open Science

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