DORA announces new career assessment tool

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The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) has announced the launch of Reformscape – an online resource enabling the global academic community to explore and share examples of how to make hiring, promotion and tenure fairer, more robust and more diverse.

For years, the traditional way in which academic careers are assessed has been criticised as being unfair, biased and unfit for purpose, says the organisation. – with an excessive focus on narrow criteria and publication metrics, and an overreliance on journal impact factors and quantity of output rather than the quality and diversity of research, leaving talented people overlooked and held back progress in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Free to use through a user-friendly online portal, Reformscape is a dataset bringing together hundreds of real-life examples showing how universities and other academic institutions around the world are bringing in fairer, more responsible and more informative approaches to academic career assessment. Reformscape is populated with policies, action plans and other documents from more than 200 institutions from all over the world, together with trends and expertly curated insights.

Administrators, faculty and others in the academic community can explore Reformscape for ideas and inspiration around how to implement new approaches to career assessment and progression in their own institution, and also share their own policies and plans with the wider world. 

For example:

  • Read institutional profiles describing detailed summaries of their actions and progress. 
  • Access source materials to dig into the details of announcements, action plans, policies and published practices. 
  • Search and filter examples by location, career stage, discipline and date.  
  • Read expertly curated insights and commentary by the DORA team drawn straight from the data.
  • View graphs and visualisations showing trends in responsible academic career assessment over time and by country.
  • Share institutional profiles and insights with your networks to spark conversations and celebrate progress. 
  • Keep up to date with new materials added over time by using meta tags as well as the latest insights shared by the DORA team.  

Reformscape has been developed as part of Project TARA (Tools to Advance Research Assessment) – a collaboration between Sarah de Rijcke, Alex Rushforth and Marta Sienkiewicz at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University, Netherlands, Ruth Schmidt at the Institute of Design at Illinois Tech, Stephen Curry at Imperial College London, and Anna Hatch, Haley Hazlett and Zen Faulkes at DORA. The project was co-created with members of the academic community and is supported by Arcadia, a charitable foundation that works to protect nature, preserve cultural heritage and promote open access to knowledge.

Professor Stephen Curry, former chair of DORA who worked on the Project TARA team, said: “DORA is very much a community effort to discover, develop and share solutions to the knotty problems of research assessment and this approach is very much at the heart of our new Reformscape tool. We are immensely proud of what we’ve achieved and excited to see how it will be used to foster the uptake of fairer and more robust career assessment in institutions across the world.”

Sarah de Rijcke, Professor of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at Leiden University, added: “Reformscape is a significant step in evolving the way we assess academic careers. Its launch is an encouraging development towards more equitable and inclusive academic evaluations. I’m hopeful about the potential impact of this tool, especially in expanding our perspective on academic achievements beyond conventional measures. I’m keen to see how it grows to include more institutions and diverse career stages, offering a more nuanced view of academic merit.”

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