Research assessment: Origins, evolution, outcomes

What have assessment initiatives achieved?

In this report, we review the outcomes and changes in regional research performance that can be linked to research assessment policy.

We explore research assessment, its origins, how it works in different regions and what effects it has on higher education and funding policy, drawing on Web of Science™ data. The most important feature of any assessment system should be the extent to which it attracts and retains the confidence of the researchers.

The structure and performance of six systems are analyzed:

  • The United Kingdom set the first model for regular research assessment. It had pervasive effects on institutional management and researcher behavior.
  • Australia has a comprehensive research assessment that seeks to measure both academic impact and wider societal benefit. However, it does not influence direct research funding and may not be connected to citation-indexed research performance.
  • Canada focuses on ‘knowledge mobilization’ in specific research areas rather than assessing general research outcomes.
  • Germany promotes its research status using ‘Excellence Initiative’ block funding to research organizations without regular nationwide evaluations.
  • Hong Kong’s research assessment system is similar to the U.K. model. However, it draws on a distinctive conception of scholarship and on socio-economic benefit, as well as excellence.


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ISI Research assessment - origins, evolution, outcomes