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.
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.
Aalto University Research, Art and Impact (RAI) Assessment 2018
When founded in 2010, Aalto University was given a national mission to strengthen the innovative capacity of Finland through first-class research, art and education. From the beginning, Aalto University has ambitiously developed activities based on high quality research and artistic work, and strived to build a university that is more competitive, more focused but also more collaborative across disciplines.
To evaluate the development, performance, and the future potential, Aalto University carried out a Research, Art, and Impact Assessment in 2018. The quality of research and artistic activity, as well as the societal impact were subject to an international evaluation to consolidate Aalto's international standing, and to identify fields with world-class potential.
Summary of assessment
The chairs of the nine panels had the same main message: Aalto University has taken a giant leap forward in less than ten years. Praise was given to, for instance, the university’s strong, internationally known brand, the tenure track system leading to further internationalisation, the hierarchy supporting a good working atmosphere, high-quality infrastructure, cooperation with companies and the student-led entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Very positive sense of desire to develop Aalto to its best potential, at all levels.” “Excellent potential for achieving broad and ambitious goals for both research excellence and societal impact”, summarized the panel chairs.
Multiple panel suggested the reinforcement of diversity and, in particular, increasing the proportion of women scientists as an important area for development. The role of platforms as accelerators of multidisciplinary research should be clarified and supported even more. The panels also encouraged Aalto to critically examine the borders between different schools and departments and to consider what kind of organisational model would best support the implementation of the university’s special mission.
A bibliometric analysis conducted by CWTS recorded Aalto University to be a robust research organization, with overall a proper embeddedness into the international academic community. Research at Aalto is well cited: 20% over world average, which is seen as a sign of impact. The highest impact was observed in categories Physics and Business. On average, Aalto publishes in very high-level journals. Publications are done primarily in collaboration with foreign partners, which tends to increase the citation impact significantly. Aalto's research fields have a clear applied focus and 8% of publications have industry collaborators.
The public final report of the assessment is available below. Aalto personnel and students can log in to see the full versions of all Field and Department reports, too.
For more information, please contact:
Ella Bingham, Head of Research Strategic Support, ella.bingham(at)aalto.fi
Krisztina Cziner, Project Manager, tel. +358 503161028, krisztina.cziner(at)aalto.fi
Marjo Kettunen, Project Manager, tel. +358 50 3042827, marjo.kettunen(at)aalto.fi
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.
The first international research assessment exercise of Aalto University was carried out in 2009, on the brink of the launch of the new University. The research assessment exercise was performed by panels of international experts. The panels consisted of 62 members from 20 countries.
In addition to the panel assessments, an external expert body carried out a bibliometric analysis of Aalto University in order to determine the quality of research at Aalto on the basis of its ISI-listed publications and number of citations.
In the self-assessment phase the units expressed their views on the quality of research in their units. The self-assessment reports were part of the information pack distributed to the panels before the assessment proper.