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.
Assessment: Peer review
The assessment of scientific activity and research traditionally relies on the principles 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.
As a part of its Open Science policy, the CNRS signed the DORA declaration on July 14, 2018: this is a commitment to avoid the use of bibliometrics and to rely on qualitative assessment, as well as to take into account the full variety of research activities.
In this context, the evaluation of researchers by the sections and interdisciplinary commissions is based on the following four principles:
- It is the results themselves that are evaluated, not the fact that they may have been published in a prestigious journal or other high profile media.
- The scope, impact and personal contribution made to the outputs submitted for evaluation prevail over their exhaustive listing.
- Assessment shall take all types of research output into account, and in particular, where it makes sense, the data underlying the publication and the source code necessary to produce the results.
- All the cited productions shall be available in HAL or possibly another open archive, insofar as their type allows it.