The San Francisco Declaration

Indicators based on journals, such as the Impact Factor (IF), are frequently used to evaluate scientific output, especially in the context of decisions on funding, recruitment and promotion. However, these tools have deficiencies for research assessment. As a signatory of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) alongside many other research organisations and institutions, the French National Research Agency (ANR) supports the adoption of improved practices in research evaluation.

Developed on the initiative of researchers from the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and publishers of scholarly journals, the San Francisco Declaration sets out 18 recommendations for research organisations, funding agencies, publishers and researchers to improve the way the quality of scientific output is assessed. For example, it recommends avoiding the use of indicators based on journals (such as the Impact Factor) as a proxy for the quality of research articles in assessing individual researchers, taking the scientific content of articles into account when evaluating the productivity of project coordinators and considering the value of all scientific output (data, software, patents etc.) in all assessment approaches. It also encourages the exploration of new qualitative indicators to describe the impact of research work.

Read the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

Towards a considered, reasonable use of indicators at ANR

ANR, which signed DORA on 7 September 2018, encourages consideration for the quality and importance of all research output, not only articles – which remain a central aspect – but also data sets, prototypes, software, patents, recommendations for practice, mediation actions etc.

In the context of its project selection activities, an awareness and training programme for chairpersons of the 2019 Generic Call for Proposals (AAPG) committees has been introduced to apply these recommendations.

ANR draws on the general principles of the San Francisco Declaration to establish the impact analysis for the projects it funds, and on the Leiden Manifesto for the correct use of quantitative indicators.

More broadly, ANR's support for the principles of the San Francisco Declaration is part of its commitment to promoting integrity in research culture and open research data.


A few pointers about the impact factor

An indicator of a journal's reputation, the impact factor is the average number of citations of the journal's articles relative to the number of articles published in the journal. It is calculated over a two-year publication period using the Web of Science (WoS) bibliographic database, which indexes over 12,000 scientific journals. The impact factor of a journal in year N is published in the middle of year N+1 in the Journal Citation Report (JCR).