During its General Assembly on 10 June 2020, the Global Young Academy signed DORA, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment. DORA is a global initiative that aims to reform the way in which scientific research is evaluated. Currently, most research assessment is based on quantitative metrics that have been shown to be fundamentally flawed, especially for the evaluation of individual researchers.

GYA alumnus Koen Vermeir (CNRS, France), Immediate Past Co-Chair of the GYA, says, “We need to reform the evaluation of research. The future of science is at stake. If we select and reward the wrong candidates for the wrong reasons, all aspects of science will suffer.”

Newly-elected GYA Co-Chair Anindita Bhadra (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research–Kolkata, India) adds, “Some of the current evaluation practices need a serious change in order to be more transparent and assess research on its own merits. We need to shift out of the current undue reliance on metrics and create more inclusive assessment protocols”.

Young Academies have an important role to play in outlining future policies for research assessment. The GYA has a Scientific Excellence working group dedicated to this important topic, promotes research on global trends in research evaluation, has published a report on “Publishing models, assessment, and open science”, has given advice to policy makers, and is contributing to many ongoing initiatives.

Scientific Excellence working group co-lead and GYA alumnus Boon Han Lim (Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia), adds that, “A lot of funds are invested into academic research every year, but the outcome or societal impact is often easily overlooked when only judged along non-transparent and inappropriate metrics. Often, these metrics incentivise researchers to work on superficially interesting but redundant output with little real impact. We should break the chain now and return to true research as well as gain back the image of academia”.

Young Academies can also apply the DORA principles themselves. Young Academies endeavor to select the most excellent young scientists from various disciplines, and this requires a clear sense of standards of research quality and a robust system of research assessment.

Signing DORA signals the GYA’s clear commitment to avoid shortcuts in research evaluation and to take scientific quality seriously. The GYA also hopes to inspire other Young Academies worldwide who have not yet signed DORA to consider doing so, in order to better anchor DORA and its principles among all the existing young academies.