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Open University statement on the responsible use of research metrics

The Open University (OU) is a values-led institution which seeks to be “Open to people, places, methods and ideas”. The University champions openly shared, engaged research of all kinds alongside its world-leading approach to online teaching.

In alignment with this mission, the OU signed the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) on 23 November 2020.

The OU wishes to attract, retain and develop a diverse research community. Therefore, it commits to contextualising and assessing staff recruitment, promotion, reward, retention, and development opportunities equitably and holistically, especially for early stage investigators.

In line with DORA, the OU commits to making explicit the criteria used in the above processes. It will make responsible, equitable use of research performance metrics only where appropriate to complement, not replace, expert and stakeholder evaluations of research quality and decisions about career advancement.

The OU is cognisant of a variety of external assessment demands which differ between disciplines and recognises the need to manage these responsibly in a way that maximises positive outcomes for the institution and individuals. The contextualisation of staff career advancement opportunities includes assessing and positively valuing other contributions to the OU’s research, educational and societal missions. These contributions may include teaching, supervision, knowledge exchange, public engagement and impact generating activities.

The OU is aware of, and equally values, a variety of research outputs and practices beyond research publications, including, but not limited to, datasets, software, practice based, creative and analogue outputs.

The OU commits to not allocating staff career advancement opportunities based on Journal Impact Factors (JIFs). It will seek to eliminate the use of JIFs as a means of assessing research quality and the allocation of career advancement and development opportunities. The OU retains the position that staff should publish their research where this is most appropriate for their research activities, including practice based and professional outlets.

The OU recognises the importance of processes for staff evaluation that are transparent and evidence-based, as part of a culture that aims to be fully inclusive. Implementing these processes well, will require time and collaboration across the institution from both academic and professional staff. To this end, the OU developed a DORA implementation plan to ensure DORA principles are effectively implemented, supported, communicated and progress on their implementation transparently monitored.

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