Evaluation of research

Principles of research evaluation

Researchers are confronted with evaluations at many times during their career.

The framework for such evaluations will generally be guided by discipline-specific criteria for identifying excellence, as well as by policy incentives designed to steer specific behaviour or to reward particular performance. The process and method of evaluation must be of high quality, whether they are bibliometrics based or peer review based or a mix of these. The methods and standards being applied must be carefully chosen in concordance with the purpose of the evaluation, covering a wide range from individual researcher development to institutional strategy decisions.

Ghent University’s Board of Governors has agreed on eight principles that must guide every evaluation of research:

  1. The choice of an appropriate evaluation method for research is in line with the objective of the evaluation.
  2. The evaluation takes into account the intended impact of the research; strictly academic, economic, societal, or a combination of these.
  3. The evaluation takes into account the diversity between disciplines.
  4. For each chosen evaluation method, the simplicity of the procedure is weighed up against the complexity of the research.
  5. The evaluation criteria are drawn up and communicated to all stakeholders in advance.
  6. There are sufficient experts on the evaluation committee who are in a position to adequately assess the quality of the research.
  7. The above principles are implemented by means of a smart choice of evaluation indicators and by adopting a holistic approach to peer review.
  8. Any committee or policy measure evaluating research, makes a best effort commitment to translate the above principles into practice.

The full context and implications of these principles is available for download.

 Responsible use of metrics and indicators

Indicators can support the evaluation of research performance quickly, efficiently and with a high degree of objectivity. Their simplicity makes indicators particularly attractive. However, they should be used with caution because scientific practice is too complex to be grasped in one indicator.

This guideline for the use of indicators in the evaluation of research at Ghent University can be used for many purposes: the recruitment of professors, the career models, the selection of BOF applications, or an allocation model.

Portfolio of research dimensions

This portfolio has been developed to help in the description, planning and evaluation of research. The complex research system has been divided up into a number of dimensions from which the researchers and research groups can select when defining their goals and aspirations.