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Jun 3, 2024

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European Commission's Action Plan for Research Assessment Reform

Jun 3, 2024

COARA signatories have started publishing their action plans  to implement the ten commitments outlined in the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment (ARRA). Among them we singled out European Commission's which very much relates to OpenAIRE's plans (coming soon).

The European Commission action plan to implement the ten commitments outlined in the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment (ARRA)enhances the diversity, transparency, and quality of research assessments across the EU.

Key components (non-inclusive) of the action plan include:

  • Recognise Diversity: The European Commission has integrated the recognition of diverse research contributions into the Horizon Europe program, assessing open science practices, citizen engagement, and gender considerations. Applicants must list diverse achievements and provide Data Management Plans. Gender Equality Plans are mandatory for relevant institutions. The Commission will improve award criteria and application processes for FP10 to better recognize diverse contributions and outputs, and continue developing Open Research Europe (ORE) into a widely accessible open-source service.
  • Qualitative Evaluation: The European Commission has established a robust peer-review process for Horizon Europe, assessing proposals based on "Excellence," "Impact," and "Quality and efficiency of implementation." They ensure a balanced peer-reviewer composition regarding skills, experience, disciplines, geographical diversity, and gender. Going forward, the Commission will look to improve the selection of peer-reviewers for FP10 and Horizon Europe and consider piloting innovative research proposal assessment processes.
  • Avoid Inappropriate Metrics: The European Commission has endorsed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and moved away from using Journal Impact Factors (JIF) and journal prestige in Horizon Europe evaluations. They provide guidance to peer reviewers to disregard JIF and have established Open Research Europe with article-level metrics. In the future, the Commission will seek improvements to Key Impact Pathways for FP10 to ensure responsible use of quantitative indicators, avoiding reliance on JIF and the h-index.
  • Avoid Rankings: The European Commission avoids use of organizational rankings in research proposal evaluations.
  • Resource Commitment: The European Commission commits both in-kind and financial resources to initiatives such as the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA). Financial support is provided through the Horizon Europe program to support institutional changes and projects that align with the reform objectives. 
  • Develop Criteria and tooling: In preparation for the next framework program (FP10), the European Commission will review and refine research assessment criteria, tools, and processes to align with ARRA principles. The goal is to develop assessment tools that accurately reflect the quality and impact of research, moving away from traditional metrics that may not capture the full scope of scholarly work. 
  • Raise Awareness: The European Commission will provide clear and detailed guidance to applicants and peer reviewers on the new criteria and processes, with a particular focus on open science practices and gender equality. Training programs will address unconscious biases and promote a better understanding of the importance of diverse contributions. 
  • Exchange Practices: The European Commission participates and co-chairs various initiatives, such as the G7 Open Science Working Group and the Global Research Council to foster a global dialogue on improving research assessment. These efforts include organizing thematic dialogues on open science and research excellence, contributing to working groups focused on responsible research assessment, and collaborating with the European Open Science Cloud to support data sharing and infrastructure development.
  • Communicate Progress: The European Commission will regularly provide updates on the adherence to ARRA principles and the effectiveness of the reforms. 
  • Evaluate and Improve: The European Commission is committed to an evidence-based approach in evaluating and improving research assessment practices. This involves funding projects that pilot new practices, gather evidence, and support data sharing and indicator development. The Commission will map existing projects, identify key contributions and recommendations, and determine new actions needed to further enhance research assessment. 

Role of Open Infrastructures like OpenAIRE

OpenAIRE plays a crucial role in the implementation of EC's action plan by providing the necessary platform and services to support open science practices. These enable:

  • Open Access Publishing: Platforms like Open Research Europe, which OpenAIRE supports and integrates in the OpenAIRE Graph, facilitate the publication of diverse research outputs, ensuring accessibility and visibility.
  • Data Management and Sharing: OpenAIRE promotes best practices in data management, making research data openly available and interoperable, which is essential for evidence-based assessment and transparency. Our DMP service Argos is a key facilator in ensurring 
  • Support for Diverse Contributions: By supporting the inclusion of various research outputs, OpenAIRE helps recognize the full spectrum of scientific contributions, aligning with the Commission's commitment to diversity in research assessment. See our Guidelines for all types of research outputs, and how these are manifested in OpenAIRE Explore (via the OpenAIRE Graph).
  • Community Engagement and Training: OpenAIRE provides resources, training, and guidance on open science practices, helping researchers and institutions adopt these practices effectively. OpenPlato, our Open Science Bootcamps, the Webinars for Horizon Europe proposers and beneficiaries, and our members' extensive engagement and outreach are only a few of our  

We are also happy that the EC acknowledges four key Horizon Europe projects, three in which OpenAIRE actively participates:


Better understanding and measuring Open Science impacts and their causal mechanisms


Support the emerging policy reforms and pave the way towards an Open Science aware Responsible Research Assessment system

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Scientific Knowledge Graphs in the heart of Open Science

COARA Working Group on Open Infrastructure for Responsible Research Assessment (OI4RRA)

OpenAIRE co-chairs with CWTS, University of Leiden the COARA Working Group on OI4RRA (Natalia Manola and Clifford Tatum). With ~70 members being involved, the WG has a mission to enable institutions to move from proprietary infrastructure and research information, to open (interoperable) alternatives–in support of the transition to responsible research assessment practices. This effort will take into consideration the wide range of research outputs and open science practices, and address the diversity of the global research community.

The two formed subgroups are currently finalising (i) the Definitions, Principles and Characteristics of how Open Infrastructures serve RRA, and (ii) the conceptual architecture, i.e., services and tools in tiers, to help the community in understanding how the different components of the infrastructure are working and linked together. Both results will be put out for open consultation by the COARA members, and we will also solicit use cases where institutions already use, or are thinking of using open infrastructures.