Bilbao brings together SOMMa, the scientific alliance of excellence to promote improvements in research evaluation

  • More than 80 representatives of the Alliance of Excellence of Severo Ochoa Centres and María de Maeztu Units (SOMMa) meet at the Bizkaia Aretoa to analyse the latest trends in the evaluation of scientific research.

Research in science has a direct impact on society and on the competitiveness of our economy. For some years now there has been a global debate in the scientific community calling for the need to improve the systems for evaluating the results of scientific production in a precise and sensible way.

The SOMMa Alliance wanted to bring this debate closer on the occasion of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) by bringing together its community of open science professionals to analyse, together with different experts, the new policies in the reform of the evaluation of research activity, especially its impact on the promotion of research careers.

For the SOMM alliance, Bilbao is the strategic base of its presidency through María José Sanz, scientific director of the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), who took office as president in November 2022 and was in charge of opening the conference together with Fernando Cossío, scientific director of the Basque Foundation for Science (Ikerbasque).

 “The diversity of the centres and units that SOMMa represents is a window of opportunity to facilitate the adaptation of these new policies for the evaluation of scientific research in order to improve research careers”, said María José Sanz.

The meeting, broadcast by streaming, was co-organised by the SOMMa Open Science working group in collaboration with the Basque Centre for Applied Mathematics (BCAM) and the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), both accredited as Severo Ochoa Centres of Excellence since 2014.

SOMMa has also actively participated in the whole process of drafting the first National Open Science Strategy (ENCA) for the period between 2023 and 2027, drawn up by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Ministry of Universities.

Eva Méndez, representing the International Coalition for the Advancement of Research Assessment (CoARA), presented the keys to this European agreement, which provides a basis for promoting the necessary reforms to ensure that research assessment is based on qualitative criteria.

Pilar Paneque, director of the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) shared with the audience the role of quality agencies in the reform of research assessment.

This was followed by the round table “The reform of science evaluation and its impact on attracting and retaining talent” with the participation of Ismael Ràfols from the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) Leiden University, Pilar Rico, head of the Open Access Unit FECYT and Fernando Orejas, expert in the area of information technologies.

The Severo Ochoa Centres and María de Maeztu Units are accredited with the highest official recognition for scientific research granted in Spain through the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

The SOMMa Alliance currently brings together 65 entities covering a wide range of scientific disciplines and its mission is to promote at international level the research of excellence produced by all its members and to increase the scientific, social and economic impact.

Six working groups are currently active, composed of different profiles of alliance members in areas such as communication, gender, management, SO/MM accreditation, open science and technology transfer.

The reform of the evaluation of scientific research is a debate that began in 2012 with an international movement San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) where a group of academic journal editors developed a series of recommendations to promote a valuation of research based on the quality of the research itself and not on the notoriety of the journals in which it is published.

The current reality is that there are no global protocols to guide scientific evaluation systems, avoiding the mechanisation of an issue that is vital for the future of research.