Scientific administrators from across ministries deliberated on ways to make research assessment methods robust and inclusive so that new ideas that are relevant for India are encouraged and young talents get opportunities, at a workshop on Research Assessment Practices in Indian Funding Agencies.
“Assessment of research is a burning challenge across the globe and experts from around the world are looking for ways to tackle it. India should develop its own method of assessing research projects, their outputs and outcomes that are adaptable to the country,” said DST Secretary Dr S Chandrasekhar. He highlighted the benefits of blind assessment—where the reviewer assesses projects without knowing the person or the institute which has submitted the proposal. Dr Chandrasekhar also stressed on the need to organize workshops for sensitizing reviewers.
The day long workshop was organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and attended by scientific administrators of different levels who participated in activities to help assess the current status of research evaluation and suggest measures for improvement.
Senior Advisor, DST, Dr Akhilesh Gupta stressed on responsible research assessment that takes into account the huge diversity of India, in terms of geography, gender, access to resources, institutional facilities, etc. He also highlighted the need for a thematic club of reviewers and paying honorarium to reviewers for improving the quality of review process.
The workshop and panel discussion was organised by the Policy Coordination & Programme Management (PCPM) division of the DST along with DST Policy Fellows to understand the current intramural and extramural research assessment practices of India’s funding agencies, their strengths and weaknesses, using interactive exercises and discussions with the research ecosystem stakeholders and also find ways to improve them.
The science administrators discussed that since research priorities and challenges are changing with the time, the current practices built on incentives or indicators and primarily based on journal-based matrices required a relook and as recommended by the draft 5th STI Policy of India needed a reworked research assessment framework to improve the research agenda. They added that while the responsible metrics movement around the globe, such as the Leiden Manifesto, DORA Declaration, and so on are important in raising awareness about alternative holistic metrics of research evaluation, an India centric research assessment practice was the need of the hour.
Officials from DST, Department of Bio-technology (DBT), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and other scientific funding agencies participated in the workshop and panel discussion.