Publisher becomes largest research publisher to sign DORA (San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment), joining thousands of research institutions, publishers, imprints and funders in the commitment to ensure a balanced and fair approach to research assessment

Springer Nature has extended its commitment to ensuring that the impact and quality of research is assessed in a balanced and fair way by formally signing up as to the principles outlined in the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, commonly known as DORA.  In doing so, Springer Nature becomes the first large research publisher to sign the declaration and commit its entire owned journal portfolio to providing a number of metrics so that research can be assessed fairly.

Springer Nature has long advocated for a balanced approach to research evaluation and responsible authorship practices and today’s announcement follows Springer Nature’s imprints Nature Research, Springer Open and BMC who became signatories in 2017.  Nature Research journals, in particular, have advocated against the use of journal-level metrics to assess the value of individual research articles since the 1990s.

Commenting, Alison Mitchell, Chief Journals Officer, stated:

“Research assessment is a challenge for the academic community, and one which requires action from all stakeholders, including publishers. Springer Nature has long recognised, and advocated for, the need to judge individual research on the merits of that research alone.   Requiring all of our journals to abide by the DORA principles is a strong demonstration of our commitment to supporting a balanced and fair approach towards assessing the impact and quality of research.

“Going forward, not only will an array of metrics be publicly available at an article and journal level, but we will work towards upholding all five of the main recommendations DORA outlines for publishers.  We already encourage responsible authorship practices and will now seek to include author contribution statements in the remaining journals that do not already have them. Springer Nature is also a participant in the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) and publicly releases reference list metadata. Additionally, and in line with the recommendations, we have removed or reduced the constraints on the number of references in research articles and seek to encourage the citation of primary literature in favour of reviews.”

Introduced in 2012 during the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco, DORA recognises a ‘need to improve the ways in which the output of scientific research is evaluated by funding agencies, academic institutions and other parties’.

Anna Hatch, Program Director, DORA further commented:

“We welcome Springer Nature’s decision to sign DORA and the company’s commitment to support real change in research assessment practices. This is an important step in helping to tackle a difficult and complex problem. Meaningful reform of  how the outputs of research are assessed for hiring, promotion, and funding decisions will only happen with the support and action of the entire academic community.”  

Full compliance will not be achieved immediately. Springer Nature is continually working to upgrade its platforms to enable them to support the wider sharing of metrics and other information. The publisher will also continue to work directly with its society partners to help them meet and comply with DORA principles. More information on Springer Nature and DORA can be found here.