May 15, 2023

Declaration on Research Assessment improves the way scholarly research is evaluated

UCalgary part of innovative approach to research assessment
UCalgary campus
Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

How is scholarly research evaluated?  Traditionally, academia has focused on bibliometric indicators — a set of mathematical and statistical methods used to analyze and measure the quantity and quality of journal publications. Unfortunately, focusing on bibliometrics alone does not tell the whole story, and can reinforce unintended cognitive and systems biases.

In 2012, a worldwide initiative was started at the American Society for Cell Biology annual meeting to recognize the need to improve the ways in which researchers and the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated. In 2013, the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) was published.

DORA aims for thoughtful inclusion of broader types of research outputs and societal impact in assessment of researchers for funding, tenure, promotion, merit and hiring. DORA paves the way for consideration of scholarly activities that are typically not captured in bibliometrics, such as community engagement, reports to government, research creation, and outputs such as datasets, software, and performances.

The University of Calgary was the first Canadian university to sign DORA in January 2021, joining more than 2,000 organizations around the world — including major Canadian funding agencies such as NSERC, CIHR, SSHRC, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and Genome Canada. Most recently, the university became a supporting member of DORA.


“DORA warmly welcomes the generous support of the University of Calgary, which has demonstrated exemplary commitment to implementing responsible research assessment. We very much look forward to engaging with them in the coming years,” says Dr. Stephen Curry, DORA's chair.

DORA on campus

The university’s Knowledge Engagement (KE) team in the Research Services Office is helping to bring the DORA recommendations to life at UCalgary through consultations, building awareness, and discussions about research assessment and research impact assessment. The KE team has launched a DORA website, that includes a number of resources including a detailed five-stage implementation plan, and recorded webinars. The team is also hosting a series of workshops on DORA across faculties and units on campus.

“The University of Calgary is thrilled to be part of such an innovative approach to research assessment,” says Dr. Marcello Tonelli, associate vice-president research. “Becoming a supporting member of DORA is another positive step toward responsible research assessment and will undoubtedly benefit our faculty and their research endeavours."

Celebrating 10 years of DORA

This month marks 10 years since DORA was published. It has become a worldwide initiative covering all scholarly disciplines and stakeholders, including funders, publishers, professional societies, institutions, and researchers. DORA’s 10th anniversary celebration will happen the week of May 15 to 19. 

As part of the week’s celebration, the University of Calgary hosted a half-day in-person workshop May 14 at the Canadian Conference on Research Administration in collaboration with CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC, Genome Canada, CFI, and the Université de Montréal.

In addition, on May 16, Dr. Stephanie Warner, PhD, manager of UCalgary’s Knowledge Engagement team will also participate as a panellist in the Africa, Americas and Europe plenary — DORA at 10: A look at our history and the bright future of responsible research assessment. This session is free and open to the UCalgary community.

If you have questions about DORA, or to request an information session or workshop for your faculty or unit, please email the team at

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