At the CNRS, the evaluation of public research is crucial, both for its actors, researchers, and for the public authorities that finance it, as well as for society, which has expectations and queries regarding scientific advances and their applications. This is an important issue in the context of international competition, public funding constraints, and societal evolution.
At the CNRS, assessment applies to the entire organisation, including its laboratories, researchers, engineers, and technicians. It relies on several criteria, such as scientific publications, awards, recognition from the scientific community, and technology transfer among others.
Evaluating the CNRS
In 2016, an international advisory committee evaluated all CNRS activities, following the institution’s completion of a self-evaluation covering both its scientific and research support activities. The advisory committee issued a report proposing analyses and recommendations for the main challenges facing the CNRS between now and 2025, pointing to its budget in particular.
Evaluating the laboratories
Joint research units are assessed every five years by an independent national governing body, the High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (Hcéres). Evaluations are completed by committees of experts from academia or the private sector, and their reports are made public.
Researchers are evaluated and their careers monitored by the National Committee for Scientific Research (CoNRS), a collective governing body elected from among members of the scientific community. Each year, researchers present an activity report on the progress of their research, scientific publications, teaching and technology transfer activities.
Peer review or “Peer to Peer”
The assessment of scientific activity and research traditionally relies on the principle of “peer review”. Researchers use qualitative criteria to evaluate one another, for example within the reading committees of scientific journals. These bodies, which are made up of researchers, decide whether the papers that are submitted to them should be published.
The quality (originality, research impact, etc.) and quantity of published articles are then the subject of bibliometric studies, which are used alongside other criteria to evaluate researchers, laboratories and institutions. These studies are also considered by the organisations that conduct international institutional rankings (Scimago Institutions Ranking, Nature Index, etc.).