Advancing responsible research assessment

Elsevier signs Declaration on Research Assessment; implementation steps will include making reference lists of all articles openly available via Crossref

By Andrew Plume, PhD - December 16, 2020
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Elsevier has long supported the responsible use of metrics and indicators in the assessment of research. We established the International Center for the Study of Research (ICSR) to work in partnership with the research community to help develop our approach to research assessment. It’s vital that we work together to apply the same high standards of evidence to the evaluation of research as scientists apply in their own work.

To support these goals, Elsevier has signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). The signing took place today on the anniversary of the declaration.

Prof Stephen Curry, Chair of DORA, said:

I am very pleased that Elsevier has committed itself to DORA and agreed to open up its citation data. To me, this is a powerful indicator of the rising importance worldwide of responsible research assessment. I very much look forward to seeing the positive impact of this decision both within Elsevier and the community that they serve.

Dr Nick Fowler, Elsevier’s Chief Academic Officer, added:

We believe that approaches to research assessment should focus on ensuring openness, transparency and constant evolution. DORA enshrines these ideas, and we are pleased to express our support for it.

Elsevier is signing in its capacity as both a publisher and an organization that supplies assessment tools and services. We commit to upholding all the recommendations relevant to those roles. We will also share best practice with other stakeholders to create the greatest potential for meaningful change. We’re proud to be one of the hundreds of organizations, along with thousands of individuals, who are on a journey towards a fair and balanced approach to research assessment.

Research assessment best practice

Metrics and indicators in research assessment should not be centered solely on bibliometrics such as publication and citation metrics. They must encompass other measures as required to address the broad range of assessment-related questions. These cover the need to assess research inputs, outputs and outcomes, such as funding, collaboration, usage, commercialization and the adoption of innovation. As more diverse data sources and metrics are used, a richer and more informative picture of research emerges. Of course, in addition to indicators, responsible assessment must consider qualitative evaluations of important research activities (e.g. data sharing, mentoring).

Elsevier has already implemented many of DORA’s recommendations, and this announcement builds on Elsevier endorsing the Leiden Manifesto earlier this year, which gives the research community clarity on how we will deliver improved research evaluation tools and indicators.

For example, since we launched CiteScore in 2016, we have been in close contact with the research community, listening to feedback from researchers, research leaders, librarians and journal editors. We introduced a new calculation methodology for 2019 CiteScore values to enable a faster and more robust comparison of journals while retaining the comprehensive, current and clear methodology that is appreciated so much.

Moreover, we continue to roll out CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) across all our journals, which aims to encourage responsible authorship practices by acknowledging the specific contributions of each author in an article.

Following today’s announcement, we will make reference lists for all articles published in Elsevier journals openly available via Crossref so they can be available for reuse. This means other important initiatives like I4OC can draw on this metadata.

We look forward to working even more closely with Crossref as a result of this announcement. Elsevier is responsible for the curation, maintenance and expansion of the Funder Registry, which we donate to Crossref under a CC0 license. We are also a long-time participant in the Crossref TDM initiative.

At Elsevier, we aim to uphold the DORA principles and play our part in improving research culture and striving for a more inclusive research system. This is the journey we are on — together.


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Andrew Plume, PhD
Written by

Andrew Plume, PhD

Written by

Andrew Plume, PhD

Dr Andrew Plume is President of the International Center for the Study of Research (ICSR) and Senior Director of Research Evaluation at Elsevier. He specializes in applying scientometric techniques (the scientific qualification and analysis of science) to market and competitive intelligence in scholarly publishing. From the lowest levels of aggregation, such as individual authors and articles, through to entire countries and subject domains, Andrew studies the growth and development of the scholarly literature by analyzing patterns of publications, citations and related indicators. Andrew frequently presents these topics to journal editors, learned and scholarly societies, and the publishing community.

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