Evaluation is a decisive factor when it comes to justifying public investment decisions on the national and European levels. But evaluation means more than just measuring the “economic cost” of a project. Also, and above all, it means weighing up the likelihood of the project achieving its objectives, analysing the benefits, estimating the medium- and long-term spinoffs and comparing the project with similar or alternative initiatives. The evaluation of research therefore plays a central role, for it provides (in terms of parameters, indicators and analysis methods applied at the national and international levels) a transparent assessment of the social benefits and economic results achieved by a project (for example, knowledge acquired, product innovation, new patents and prototypes etc.) relative to the public and private investment directed at the sector.
Who evaluates research in Italy?
Creating a system for the evaluation of the quality of research is an essential element to any country willing to invest in innovation and remain competitive. In Italy, the following bodies address this issue:
- The National Committee of Guarantors for Research (Comitato Nazionale dei Garanti per la Ricerca – CNGR)
- The National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Systems (Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del sistema Universitario e della Ricerca – ANVUR)
- REPRISE, Register of Expert Peer-Reviewers for Italian Scientific Evaluation
National Committee of Guarantors for Research
In accordance with the Italian Law No. 240/2010, the National Committee of Guarantors for Research (CNGR) is a consultative body to the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), tasked to promote the quality of research and ensure proper functioning of peer reviews. The committee, composed of seven researchers, from Italy and abroad, with a relevant seniority and belonging to a wide range of disciplines, has the important role to:
- indicate general criteria for evaluation of research projects, taking into account recommendations emerging from international organisms where Italy belongs in accordance to international covenants and treaties;
- appoint members to selection committees and coordinate their activities to evaluate research projects (also when undertaken through external referees).
These activities are carried out with reference to programs belonging to the MIUR. The CNGR can also be activated in case of selection procedures for projects or research programs realized by other public and private bodies by way of specific agreements.
National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Systems
As required under European policy, in 2010 Italy created the National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Systems (ANVUR), a public body which reports to the MIUR and, on the basis of autonomy, impartiality, professionalism and transparency, works to ensure the quality of higher education and research in Italy. Among the activities of ANVUR are:
- evaluating the quality of the processes, outcomes and products of management, education and research activities, including technology transfer, in universities and research institutes;
- defining criteria and methods for evaluating the structure of universities and research institutes, and of the courses offered by universities (including doctorates, master’s degrees and specialist colleges);
- referring their evaluations to the internal evaluation boards of universities and research institutes;
- drawing up reference parameters to ensure the correct allocation of resources;
- evaluating the efficiency and efficacy of public funding programmes and providing incentives for activities directed at education, innovation and research;
- publishing a two-yearly report on the state of the university system and research.
ANVUR’s evaluation determines the allocation of public funding to universities and research institutes. But its own work is equally subject to evaluation, by a periodically-convened committee of international experts appointed by the Ministry of Education, University and Research.
REPRISE, Register of Expert Peer-Reviewers for Italian Scientific Evaluation, established at the Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research (MIUR), is a register of Italian and foreign independent scientific experts.
The register is made up of four sections
- fundamental research
- competitive industry and better society research
- scientific culture spread
- administrative and accounting auditing, and economic-financial assessment
Experts included in the Register will be appointed for activities related to funding of research projects, or ex-ante, in itinere, and ex-post evaluation of research grants funded by the MIUR "Directorate General for Research Coordination, Promotion and Valorization".
REPRISE can also be used for the same purposes by universities, public research institutions, foundations, regions, other ministries, or agencies operating as research projects funders, provided MIUR authorization.
The application form should be submitted online, and submissions are always open. Users can fill out the application form on the REPRISE site, where it is also possible to browse the list of experts included in the register.