Brussels, 29 Oct 2004
Europe needs to develop a European Evaluation Area with new European tools and measures for more competitive and successful European research programmes, says Danish scientist.
Speaking at a recent conference session on 'evaluating European research programmes in the European Research Area (ERA), Dr Karen Siune, Director of the Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research policy warned that evaluating European research programmes was a challenge for evaluation methodology and that it was imperative to start using pan European comparative evaluations.
'At present' said Dr Siune 'the aims of the European research programmes are so great that they are hard to have as objectives for an evaluation. Those programmes are expected to provide greater interplay between science and industry, build the European research capacity and the European Research Area as well as contribute to greater European competitiveness and to the Barcelona destination. How do we evaluate all this? What are the appropriate evaluation instruments and methods?' asked Dr Siune
According to Dr Siune, the main problems related to evaluating European programmes are the short-term perspective often used in evaluations and the fact that science policy has a tendency to focus on innovation rather than science. Furthermore, adds Dr Siune, 'the dominant use of peer review raises the risk of problematic evaluations of new and emerging problem areas and cross-disciplinary activities.'
'There is also too much emphasis on efficiency, control and practical implications', insisted Dr Siune. This means that it is impossible for evaluations to cover efficiency, effectiveness and the impact of European research programmes all in one.'
Evaluations are a systematic exercise of researchers activities seen in the light of the aims. However, explains Dr Siune, the aims are often at different levels and therefore not easy to put in one score.
However, she adds, evaluations will continue and even increase as instruments used by policy makers as part of a range of control mechanisms. 'We therefore need to do more to solve the situation. We need to develop a European Evaluation Area with unified data collection, pan-European comparative instruments and more coordinated and comprehensive evaluation methods' said Dr Siune.
In conclusion, Dr Siune urged the EU to remain open to new ways of reaching that goal and to learn from different models around the world.