DORA (San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment) is part of an international movement that aims at responsible and fair assessment of research and researchers. The declaration, published in 2012, contains several recommendations for different stakeholders in research assessment, including universities and other research organisations. The declaration has been translated into 20 languages, and thus far it has been signed by over 1,800 organisations and 15,000 individuals around the world. The University of Helsinki signed DORA on 6 February 2020. In Finland, the declaration has also been signed by the Academy of Finland, the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, Tampere University, University of Oulu and University of Eastern Finland.
A central theme in DORA is the demand to give priority to qualitative indicators in research assessment. This applies to research outputs and research impact alike. With publications, the scientific content should always be the most important assessment criterion. Journal-based metrics, such as the Journal Impact Factor, should not be used as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles. Another important theme in the declaration is that research outputs (in addition to research publications, also datasets and software) and the impact of researchers’ activity should be assessed as a whole. DORA also requires that all assessment processes should be transparent and explicit about the methods and criteria used.
In emphasising that the assessment of research publications should not be dependent on the publication channel, and that a broader range of research outputs should be considered, DORA also promotes open science. Many later international open science documents and declarations (such as Plan S and the LERU Open Science Roadmap), and the forthcoming national-level recommendation for responsible researcher assessment, all use DORA as a reference, and contain similar principles.
Officially joining the signers of DORA also supports and makes more visible the work that has already been done at the University of Helsinki in the spirit of the declaration. The central principles in researcher recruitment and assessment of qualifications are transparency and equality, and the impact of a researcher’s work as a whole. In the research assessment carried out at the University of Helsinki in 2018–2019, the DORA principles were visible in the qualitative emphasis of the assessment, supported by the use of responsible metrics, and the self-assessment of the units of assessment in developing their own operations.