Birkbeck signs San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

Declaration commits College to not using journal-based metrics in hiring and promotion of academic staff

Birkbeck has joined other world-leading institutions in signing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

Under the terms of the declaration, Birkbeck will commit to not using journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors or brand name, in the hiring and promotion of academic staff. This is designed to reassure researchers that what matters is the quality of their work and not the venue in which it happens to be published.

In recent years, there has been an over-reliance in academia on journal-based metrics. Such metrics cause distortions in the evaluation of research work and steer academics towards publication venues that are historically prestigious, rather than considering other factors, such as the open availability of the research for all to read. DORA is designed to counter these distorting influences.

Professor Julian Swann, Pro-Vice Master for Research, who signed the declaration on behalf of the university said: “Birkbeck has a history of producing the highest quality of research work. At its founding, though, our institution was itself considered unconventional, providing higher education to students of all ages and backgrounds. In signing DORA, we want to assure researchers that we value their work on its own merits and not because of the venue in which it appeared, in keeping with the College's long-standing democratic principles.”

Professor Martin Paul Eve, chair of the Open Access Working Group, added: “I am extremely pleased that the College has signed DORA. The mission of Birkbeck has always been one of extending education to people to whom access was traditionally denied. I hope that this will assure researchers that publishing their high-quality work in venues that maximise dissemination for all, rather than simply chasing prestige, is the right decision to make.”