In recent decades, developments in European research policy making have led to an enhancement of the role and function of evaluation to cope with the growing globalisation of research and the need to ensure effective research systems at the national level and in the European Research Area. These developments have led to a need for a more integrated way to understand research performance as well as its efficiency and effects, combined with a growing need for a European view.
In April 2014, the European Parliamentary Research Service published the results of a study that analyses the desirability and feasibility of creating a transnational system for collecting and monitoring research performance data and to identify relevant research policy options. The report, entitled “Measuring scientific performance for improved policy making” is available online.
Since the 1960s/70s, research is increasingly expected to support the attainment of explicit social goals, contribute to economic development and develop solutions for major societal challenges such as climate change. These expectations are translated into indicator of performance by states. Governments make growing use of agencies setting broad objectives and establishing performance contracts with them. The study highlights the need for more decentralised research and innovation governance, with more actors becoming involved.
The literature review shows a growing need for a European view on research performance and impacts. In the context of the globalisation and internationalisation of research, Horizon2020 is a prime example of increasing intertwining of European and national funding of research. The experts recommend the development of a multi-level research information infrastructure that would provide access to more fine-grained and longer-term information on the inputs and results of research and provide the basis for an improved evaluation. This concept is in line with current trends in extended use of research information systems and the launch of several initiatives to integrate or link these systems at institutional, national and European levels.
Benefits provided by an integrated European research information infrastructure would include the possibility to compare directly and benchmark research performances with other institutions in Europe, taking into consideration missions, infrastructures and national environments as well as a comprehensive view of the complementarities of national research strategies. The authors of the report encourage European policy-makers to start setting the basis for the development of a European integrated research information system that would enable data sharing on research across the European Research Area – and beyond.