The next research evaluation is now getting going in earnest. In November there will be open webinars on the University-level parts of the evaluation: inter- and multidisciplinarity and research infrastructure. Photo: Getty images.2023-10-25
Time for evaluation of research
The time has come for a new evaluation of research at the University in 2024. This time round, research and research environments will be evaluated by disciplinary domain or faculty, while inter- and multidisciplinarity and research infrastructure will be evaluated at University level.
Three University-wide evaluations of research have been carried out at the University. They have all been called “Quality and Renewal” and known popularly as Q&R. The first Quality and Renewal evaluation was in 2007 and was followed by two more in 2011 and 2017. The first two were more focused on the outcome of the research, while the third focussed on processes and conditions for good research.
Next year, 2024, it is time for the next Quality and Renewal – Q&R24 – and preparations are well under way.
Review of the University’s quality system
All higher education institutions in Sweden have received instructions to adopt their own quality system for research and the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) reviews these quality systems. UKÄ therefore reviews universities’ systems for assuring quality rather than the actual quality of their research. The “Quality and Renewal” evaluation is an important component of Uppsala University’s quality system.
The evaluation is intended to be forward-looking and to promote higher quality.
“The evaluation is a good opportunity to examine our research in depth and identify both strengths and weaknesses,” says Coco Norén, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and project manager for the University-level parts of the evaluation in “Q&R24”.
Mission, Goals and Strategies the starting point
The Q&R24 evaluation will be rooted in the University’s Mission, Goals and Strategies, adopted by the University Board in December 2019. This central policy document was supplemented in October 2021 with University-wide indicators for following up the development goals in the document. The indicators will now be used as a basis for self-evaluations and by assessment panels in the Q&R24 process.
New two-part design
Q&R24 is designed in a slightly different way than the earlier evaluations. Q&R24 is divided into a University-level part and a part conducted by disciplinary domain or faculty. One of the reasons for this is that an evaluation model intended to fit all parts of the University’s research risks not being appropriate for any.
“This model allows each disciplinary domain or faculty board to adapt the evaluation to its own needs and conditions so as to make the evaluation as useful as possible.”
This means that each faculty board is responsible for evaluating the research and research environments in its own area, an approach that parallels the organisation of evaluations of education.
At the same time, some people have commented that the University Management and support structures for research also need to be evaluated. Q&R24 will therefore include two University-level evaluations: the University's work with inter- and multidisciplinarity and research infrastructure.
“As both the University Management and the support organisation are essential factors affecting researchers, we will now evaluate these aspects as well. This perspective has been somewhat lacking in the previous evaluations. We have chosen to evaluate the management and support organisation on the basis, firstly, of research infrastructure, which of course plays a really key role for research, and secondly, of inter- and multidisciplinarity, which is a vital factor in the ability of research to tackle the major societal challenges of our time.”
Thus, it is not the research infrastructure and inter- and multidisciplinary research per se that will be evaluated, but the University's work with these. The support for research and collaboration, which is another important support structure for research, has been examined previously in a different way (see fact box below).
Open webinars in November
The way in which the University-level parts are conducted will vary. The work with research infrastructure will be evaluated using a common model consisting of self-evaluation and an assessment panel. The work with inter- and multidisciplinarity, on the other hand, will be evaluated by means of benchmarking, where inspiration is drawn from equivalent activities in two or three other universities visited by the University Management.
“Now, in November, we are holding two open webinars [see fact box below, editor’s note] to get the University-level part of the evaluation started. I hope many members of staff will have a chance to participate in the webinars, it’s important to ensure the evaluation gets off to a good start.”
Results will be presented at a conference
According to plan, the results of the entire Q&R24 evaluation will be presented at a University conference at a date to be determined later.
It is unclear at the time of writing how and when UKÄ will carry out its review of Uppsala University’s quality system for research. UKÄ used to follow a six-year cycle for its reviews of quality systems at higher education institutions but has now abandoned that model. UKÄ has announced which higher education institutions will be subject to peer review until 2026. Uppsala University is not included among these higher education institutions.
Open webinars on University-level themes in Q&R24
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Coco Norén is holding two open webinars on the University-level themes in Q&R24:
Follow-up of University-wide measures deriving from Q&R17
In connection with Q&R17 a decision was taken to follow up work on the University-wide measures in 2022. That follow-up has resulted in the report “Uppföljning av universitetsgemensamt åtgärdsarbete till följd av forskningsutvärderingen Kvalitet och förnyelse 2017” (“Follow-up of the University’s work on measures resulting from the research evaluation Quality and Renewal 2017”), published in autumn 2023. In the report the author, Sven Stafström, goes through what has happened about the forty recommendations proposed by the project group for Q&R17.
Read the report “Uppföljning av universitetsgemensamt åtgärdsarbete till följd av forskningsutvärderingen Kvalitet och förnyelse 2017” (“Follow-up of the University’s work on measures resulting from the research evaluation Quality and Renewal 2017”).
- Quality and Renewal – research evaluations, information on the Staff Portal
- Research evaluation Q&R17, information on the Staff Portal
- Uppsala University: Mission, Goals and Strategies, news item on the Staff Portal, 25 February 2020
- Indicators linked to Mission, Goals and Strategies adopted, news item on the Staff Portal, 1 November 2021
- Inquiry into research and collaboration support, news item on the Staff Portal, 1 June 2023