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    Teresa Patricio said:

    Thank you for calling attention to the current process of evaluation of Portuguese research units. The article, however, is incomplete:

    1. FCT, the Portuguese funding agency responsible for the evaluation of R&D units has, in a reversal of previous experience and practice, contracted out its core mission of evaluation to the European Science Foundation. This farming out of FCT’s key role and mission to ESF was not complemented with the relevant transfer of context, history, milestones and accomplishments of the units. The first phase of evaluation and the subsequent disqualification of units took place based entirely on paper reviews, without much sensitivity to the Portugal reality.

    2. ESF evaluators revealed numerous cases of misfit between their academic and professional backgrounds and the scientific fields of the R&D units assessed. This led to numerous cases of misjudgement and errors about the fields and units being assessed. Anecdotal accounts abound from statements about economic research units not producing patents to arrogant comments about telecommunications research attempting to compete with Samsung, China or Germany or social science units studying fields such as emigration and inequality valued as useless, with nothing new to report. These stories could be funny if the situation was not serious for Portuguese science.

    3. The assessment category “Scientific Merit and Innovative Nature of the Strategic Programme” was attributed a disqualifying weight leading to the exclusion of highly competitive and productive units. The emphasis placed on strategic programmes for the future was not balanced by a thorough assessment of outputs, deliverables or impacts of the R&D units in the last few years. Overall, the evaluation process is seen by many as unjust, destructive or just plain wrong.

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    Teresa Marques said:

    I’d like to draw attention to other news related to this recent research assessment in Portugal. Most of the news sources have been published in Portuguese, with some exceptions. For instance, this:

    or this

    There’s an interview with Nuno Peres, one of the Portuguese ISI Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers 2014 here (his research centre was downgraded from Excellent to Good — which in effect means it will barely be able to continue functioning).

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