A general discontent runs through global science, and it results from the various distortions existing in current research evaluation systems. Latin America and the Caribbean are no exception. CLACSO-FOLEC emphasises the need to recognise and reward open access scientific publication and participation in content evaluation.
Research assessment systems are highly fragmentated among countries and between scientific systems and higher education institutions, so there is a complex mixture of evaluation procedures, each with its own objectives, scope and assessment dynamics. In addition, mainstream journal-based metrics, such as the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), achieved an incremental centrality in the research assessment practices and methodologies used by funding agencies and national science councils. Moreover, academic publishing systems and infrastructure are publicly owned and non-commercial, but the Diamond Open Access publishing circuit is not adequately contemplated in evaluation systems. These trends limit the local autonomy of research agendas, discourage good open access practices and reduce the potential interaction with society, while making other contributions made by researchers invisible.
Research quality and socially relevant science
In this context, 2019 saw members of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO), a network that currently consists of 898 research centres in 56 countries in Latin America and other continents, promote the creation of the Latin American Forum for Research Assessment (in Spanish, FOLEC), conceived as a space for mobilising research evaluation transformation, conducting research on research, and monitoring reforms. In 2022, a set of principles and guidelines for research assessment reform were approved by CLACSO’s 27th General Assembly. The document, known as Declaration of Principles: A New Research Assessment towards a Socially Relevant Science in Latin America and the Caribbean, encompasses research quality and socially relevant science, multilingualism and interdisciplinarity and recovers principles of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and open science. At present, CLACSO-FOLEC’s Declaration of Principles has around 300 adherents, half of which are universities, research centres and academies, and the rest are scientific journals, repositories and science councils and agencies.
In dialogue with the Dutch Recognition & Rewards programme, CLACSO-FOLEC endorses the assessment of different dimensions of researchers’ activities in the region. These include teaching, mentoring, public communication of science, citizen science and engagement with society, also called ‘extension’, and of a diversity of research outputs, for example books, chapters and reports. To better evaluate social relevance in social sciences and humanities, it encourages indicators of knowledge co-production with the community, fundamental research focused on use, social intervention and creation for social purposes, as well as basic research. CLACSO-FOLEC emphasises the need to recognise and reward open access scientific publication and participation in content evaluation in repositories and diamond journals, as well as other components of open science.
It is evident that there is now a growing momentum towards broader and more inclusive policies, methodologies, and processes for assessing research careers. Cooperation and the exchange of different local design, experiences and learnings are crucial to achieve a comprehensive, articulated and incremental reform of evaluation systems and research careers. In this respect, both the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and CLACSO-FOLEC continue working to strengthen these spaces of dialogue in broader and more inclusive global conversations.