The Douglas Research Centre signs the Declaration on Research Assessment


Changing how we value research: The Douglas Research Centre joins two other McGill-affiliated organizations in signing the Declaration on Research Assessment

The Douglas has joined the Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) and the Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform (CONP) in signing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), an agreement that seeks to change how scholarly research contributions are valued in hiring, promotion, and funding decisions.

DORA was developed in 2012 to encourage more useful and fair assessments of academic research. It recognizes that many of the metrics currently used to assess research quality, in particular Journal Impact Factor, are inaccurate and incomplete measures of research value. DORA signatories agree to consider all scientific outputs when evaluating research, including datasets and software, in a way that accurately assesses their scientific value. They also agree to be explicit about the criteria used in hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions, clearly highlighting that a paper’s content is more important than publication metrics or the journal’s impact factor.

Such a commitment is essential to the modern realities of biomedical research, which spans molecular, anatomical, behavioural, clinical, and social fields, and produces a wide variety of valuable research outputs. Datasets, software, and methods generated through research can be shared independently of traditional scholarly articles. As organizations committed to Open Science, the Douglas, The Neuro, and CONP recognize that the typical manner in which scientific research is assessed does little to incentivize the open sharing of these diverse research outputs. Making datasets open to the scientific community or building open-source software tools, for instance, is not reflected by journal impact factor or a researcher’s h-index, nor recognized in most institutional assessments of researchers for tenure and promotion.

By signing DORA and taking steps to change the way they assess the value of researchers’ contributions to neuroscience and mental health research, these organizations aim to create mechanisms that reward a more collective and collaborative approach to scientific progress. The Douglas and the Neuro for example are currently working on a set of recommendations to the McGill Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences on how it can update its tenure and promotion policies, as well as modify how researchers are assessed at the department level.

The Douglas, The Neuro, and CONP will continue to mutually reinforce one another’s efforts to educate and empower the scientific community in the adoption strategies for the appropriate assessment of scientists’ contributions to the progress of science and the promotion of Open Science.