The quality and merits of research activities are assessed through peer review using criteria relevant to the field in question.
At the university level, peer review is carried out through regular research assessments, during which an international panel assesses the research quality at the school, department and individual level. At the school level, development is monitored by a Scientific Advisory Board or Scientific and Artistic Advisory Board (S(A)AB), comprised of international experts in fields relevant to the school. In biennial meetings, the S(A)ABs examine results and development during the previous two years and provide recommendations for further development directions. An alternative to a S(A)AB is a university-level Research, Art and Impact Assessment RAI.
At the individual level, professors in non-tenured positions receive annual feedback on their development from the head of the department and/or Dean. Non-tenured professors undergo a comprehensive external peer review before being granted tenure. Individuals and teams also receive peer feedback on their funding applications and their articles and conference papers submitted for publication. Research personnel have annual objective discussions to ensure the progress of research.
Current Developments in Researcher Assessment
Recommendations on use of assessments and metrics have been given internationally (e.g. DORA, Leiden Manifest) and nationally (User guide for the Publication Forum classification and Finn-ARMA's National handbook of publication metrics in Finnish). Aalto University has signed DORA, and is committed to the principles of the declaration.
Recommendation for the responsible evaluation of a researcher in Finland (avointiede.fi) guides in researcher evaluation, and its implementation, ethical conduct and transparency. Aalto University is committed to the national recommendation of researcher evaluation.
Aalto University participates in European collaboration in reforming research evaluation and researcher evaluation: Towards a reform of the research assessment system (European Commission). The recommendation is expected to be ready in autumn 2022.
There are several other international recommendations on research and researcher assessment such as:
- League of European Research Universities (LERU), 2022:
- DORA, the European University Association (EUA), and SPARC:
There is a need to improve the ways in which the output of scientific research is evaluated by funding agencies, academic institutions, and other parties. Declaration of Research Assessment, DORA, was one of the first initiatives to improve the ways in which researchers and the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated
Leiden Manifest offers best practice and principles on metrics-based research assessment
Researcher evaluation shapes and directs research. The entire research community should take responsibility for the principles and practices of researcher evaluation. This recommendation for the responsible evaluation of a researcher provides the basis for a functioning, diverse and flourishing research community.
Aalto University's evaluation process and criteria
For a detailed description of Aalto University’s evaluation processes and criteria, see the Aalto Tenure Track Policies and Procedures document. Same principles are applied when assessing artistic activities, lecturer, and other academic positions.
The candidate is required to submit the following documents when applying for a position or advancement:
- curriculum vitae
- research and/or artistic/professional work portfolio
- teaching portfolio
A recommended CV template is available from the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (TENK).
Research (or artistic/professional) work portfolio
The research/artistic or professional work portfolio is a concise (4-10 pages) self-reflection on the merits, long-term vision, and research plan of the candidate.
The portfolio is narrative text, supported by fact-based evidence and includes
1) The candidate’s most important recent achievements/output and the strategy/goals of the research (or artistic/professional) work in the future, including
- a brief description of the context, relevance and potential of the candidate’s research results
- how the work contributes to research (or artistic/professional) excellence and takes the field forward
- contribution to responsible science (incl. open science and research ethics)
2) Significance of the candidate’s five most important publications or artistic/professional work outputs, including the candidate’s contribution if co-authored/co-produced
3) Reflection on how the research (or artistic/professional) work links to the Aalto University strategy.
4) The envisaged societal impact of the candidate’s work beyond the academic community.
Aalto University Research Assessments
The research conducted at Aalto University was subjected to an international research evaluation (research assessment exercise, RAE) to evaluate the scientific quality and societal impact of the research and to identify research with world-class potential.
In the RAI2018 evaluation - Research, Art and Impact Assessment - external experts praised, for instance, the enthusiastic and collaborative work atmosphere, university’s infrastructure, the tenure track career system and the student-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem.