The Academy of Finland grants funding based on competition and international peer review. The review of applications submitted to the Academy is primarily focused on a review of the research plan, but the evaluation of researchers is also essential, especially in the funding opportunities targeted at individual researchers.
At the Academy, we have always emphasised responsible researcher evaluation in our activities, and responsible science has been included in our funding principles for almost a decade. We continuously strive to improve our review practices, and the principles of responsible researcher evaluation have been further specified as part of our entire funding process.
In 2020, the we outlined that responsible researcher evaluation is a key element of responsible science. The aim is to move towards more precise guidelines that comprehensively take account of the activities of the scientific community. The policy is supported by our commitment to international and national declarations on research assessment, such as the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and the national recommendation on responsible researcher evaluation in Finland (PDF).
The Academy complies with the principles of responsible assessment
The Academy of Finland follows responsible practices in all research funding activities, taking into account disqualification and confidentiality, equality and nondiscrimination, open science and sustainable development.
The fundamental principles of responsible assessment are transparency, integrity, equity, competence and diversity. Our review practices, review criteria and decision criteria are described openly in the application guidelines and call texts, and they are freely accessible to all. In addition, as part of the review guidelines, the reviewers are familiarised with responsible assessment practices.
In decision-making, we also take into account the many different career paths of researchers, the impact of research and the promotion of open access. The criteria and policies guiding the funding decisions are made available on our website before calls are opened.
Responsible researcher evaluation takes better account of the quality of research outputs
In responsible researcher evaluation, instead of journal-based metrics, the evaluation places greater emphasis on assessing the research plan and the applicant’s competence (not based on quantitative indicators), as well as the scientific content and quality of the publications. In addition, the researcher’s merits are assessed through a wide range of outputs and the researcher’s career, taking into account possible career breaks. These principles are considered throughout the Academy’s funding process.
The Academy has adopted the updated CV template of the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity, which makes the researcher’s research outputs more visible in the review and decision-making process. In addition, we ask applicants to highlight up to ten key publications and up to ten other research outputs and to justify their importance for the application and the researcher’s career. Key here is that the use of journal-based metrics in the assessment is prohibited, nor may applicants add metrics to their applications (e.g. journal impact factors (JIF) or JUFO classifications).
Furthermore, the Academy does not consider that other, separate citation metrics comprehensively describe the impact, importance or quality of a publication or publications. Using metrics to support the review is not prohibited, but we emphasise in our guidelines that metrics use must be responsible and mindful of the problems associated with it. Citation metrics may potentially be misleading in peer review; it is a type of metrics that is dependent on the citation practices of different scientific disciplines. Therefore, it is not a reliably comparable indicator in review panels, which are often multidisciplinary.