New evaluation to strengthen research quality and renewal

29 February 2016

Uppsala University is launching its third university-wide research evaluation, Quality and Renewal 2017 (Kvalitet och förnyelse, ‘KoF17’). This time, the pre-conditions and processes that underpin quality and renewal in research will be brought to the fore.

In 2007, Uppsala University carried out a first self-initiated evaluation of all its research activities with the support of international experts, and a second evaluation followed in 2011. The goal was to strengthen and identify strong and promising research areas as a basis for strategic initiatives.

‘Uppsala has conducted two results-centric evaluations, to good effect. Now, we will take the next logical step by focusing on how well the processes that drive research quality and renewal function in our research environments. Research of the highest quality requires a strong culture of quality, various forms of built-in quality assurance mechanisms, and vibrant discussion of the long-term development of research agendas. This time, we are enlisting international peers to help analyse how well-functioning these cultures and systems are, rather than to grade the research output itself,’ says Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anders Malmberg, project leader of Q&R17.

As before, the new evaluation will entail bibliometric analyses, self-evaluations in the research environments, and assessments by external experts, but it will also be preceeded by an internal survey aiming to find out how researchers at Uppsala University view their own research environments. The bibliometric analyses and survey results will inform the self-evaluation by the departments, serving as the basis for critical self-reflection. The external experts will have access to the aggregate material, and will act as ‘critical friends’, identifying strong and weak points of the research environments. The evaluation will also involve reflections on the relationship between research and education, as well as how collaboration with actors and stakeholders in industry and society is integrated in the research environments.

‘Quality assurance is a natural part of academia, and something that individual researchers and academic leaders on various levels have to take joint responsibility for. For the University to thrive in the longer term, a culture of quality must be actively maintained, discussed and developed, and Q&R17 is a part of this,’ Anders Malmberg says.

The results will not affect resource allocation, but findings and conclusions will form the basis for development initiatives on different levels. The internal process and self-evaluation are scheduled for 2016, while the external experts are set to make their on-site visits in early 2017.