This project aims to provide insight into the evaluation research systems of a set of selected national case studies. The focus is on the impact that research evaluation practices has on research policy planning in terms of prioritisation of research areas, allocation of financial resources, and enhancement of public understanding of R&D.
This project aims to provide insight into the evaluation research systems of a set of selected national case studies. The focus is on the impact that research evaluation practices has on research policy planning in terms of prioritisation of research areas, allocation of financial resources, and enhancement of public understanding of R&D. The analysis is conducted on the following set of case studies: UK, Finland, Italy, Spain, the US and Japan. A short overview of research evaluation at European Union level is also provided.
The project maps the approaches to research evaluation models across countries with a view to:
The analysis shows that research evaluation is efficiently implemented only in a few number of Countries. The UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) still represents the best example of ex-post peer review assessment of public research aimed at orienting the allocation of governmental research funds. In Finland, research policy is ruled by the principle "management by results", and the formulation of research policies takes account of the results of evaluation. But even if these cases show that research evaluation is relied upon, it is also increasingly criticised. In the UK, the RAE’s methodological approach is criticised (e.g. lack of objectivity, allocation of funds to conventional research to the detriment of innovative research lines).
Overall the efficient policy use of research evaluation depends on whether the scientific research community supports evaluation practices or not. With no “evaluative culture”, research evaluation is unlikely to yield any benefits at all. The policy use of research evaluation is still deficient where the scientific community is not familiar with a systematic control of research activities. In Italy, evaluation practices are a relatively new phenomenon still not culturally backed. Spain has long suffered from the incapacity to establish an efficient management approach to research, and has only recently introduced national evaluation practices. Outside Europe, the US National Science Foundation has a active data collection system, but there is no evidence of this being used for policy action. Efforts across countries are so directed at sponsoring the “evaluative culture”. Spain’s priority is to train a managerial staff with adequate administrative and technical skills. In Italy a main concern of the Conference of University Rectors (CRUI) is to spread a robust evaluative culture that supports research evaluation as a policy design tool.