Research Assessment at EMBL

EMBL supports fair and responsible research assessment practices, which include its recruitment and performance assessment processes.

EMBL’s commitment to quality in research assessment

EMBL is committed to outstanding research, service, and administration performance by hiring and training the best personnel into a culture that values and promotes equality, diversity, and inclusion.


History of DORA at EMBL

EMBL aims to follow best scientific practices, of which DORA recommendations are an important part. EMBL became a signatory of DORA in 2018 and convened a DORA Working Group in 2020 to further strengthen EMBL’s commitment to research assessment reform. EMBL’s DORA Working Group has developed guidelines for research assessment of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers. This includes EMBL’s practices for recruitment, performance review, and promotion. The Working Group is now monitoring the implementation and progress of our research assessment efforts.

EMBL is proud to be one of DORA’s Case Studies, highlighting key elements of institutional change to improve academic career assessment.


Implementing DORA at EMBL

EMBL has developed a set of Research Assessment Recommendations and is implementing processes to uphold the DORA principles consistently across its research areas.

Our Research Assessment Recommendations are:

About DORA

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) was developed in 2012 with the goal of improving the ways in which the output of scientific research is evaluated by funding agencies, academic institutions, and other parties. As of October 2021, over 20,000 individuals and organisations in 148 countries had signed DORA.


EMBL CV Instructions

To ensure all research outputs are considered during assessment, candidates for recruitment, promotions, and awards are asked to include a variety of research outputs in their CVs and to describe the significance of key research outputs in a narrative within their CVs.

EMBL instructions for research outputs in CVs

EMBL supports fair and responsible research assessment, which includes its recruitment and performance assessment processes. We recognise a range of research outputs, discourage inappropriate use of proxies such as journal impact factors, and value research outputs based on their intrinsic merit. EMBL is a signatory of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

As well as listing publications, research outputs can include open data sets, databases, code, software, preprints, patents, commercial products, instruments, clinical practice developments, educational products, policy publications, and any other relevant outputs to which you have contributed.

At the beginning of your list of research outputs, please also include a brief narrative (max. 300 words) summarising the impact and importance of the main outputs (citing them by a persistent identifier if available). Please explain your role in contributing to the generation of new ideas and hypotheses and which key skills you have used. You can also highlight how you have communicated your ideas and research results (written and verbal), as well as any related prizes or awards you have received. Please avoid mention of impact factors, h-indices and the like. You may consider including impact measures directly related to the research output item, including qualitative indicators of research impact such as influence on policy and practice.

The process of developing instructions

The EMBL CV Instructions were developed during a dedicated workshop hosted by the Working Group titled ‘Fairer research assessment practices at EMBL’. The workshop included representatives from different career paths and stages, as well as from different EMBL sites.


Frequently asked questions

How do I know what to include in my research output narrative and in my cover letter?

The research output narrative should summarise the impact and importance of your main research outputs. A cover letter should explain why your skills and previous experience are a good fit for the specific position/programme you are applying to. We encourage you to peruse this guide to academic cover letters (pdf) produced by the EMBL Fellows’ Career Service.

How many research outputs should I discuss in my research output narrative?

As long as your overall narrative is within 300 words, this is up to you. The number of research outputs you choose to discuss will depend on your specific field of study and on your career stage. Senior researchers in some fields may wish to include more outputs, while more junior researchers may have fewer items they wish to include.

How will my research output narrative be assessed?

Together with its CV instructions, EMBL has developed recommendations for those reading and assessing CVs for recruitment, internal evaluation, and promotion. We ask all recruitment and assessment panels to assess the research outputs described on their intrinsic merit, and to consider the relevance of the work described to the advancement of the field. We discourage the inappropriate use of proxies or metrics during assessment processes – such as the title or impact factor of the journal in which the work was published.

Does this mean EMBL discourages publications in Nature, Science, Cell etc.?

EMBL Research Assessment Recommendations are only concerned with how we at EMBL discuss the value and impact of research. They discourage talking about impact factor as a proxy for high-quality science, and instead focus on the specific merits of the work in question.

How is DORA being implemented at EMBL?

EMBL Research Assessment Recommendations were developed by an institute-wide Working Group, co-chaired by Jo McEntyre and Wolfgang Huber. The Working Group includes members from Research, Services, Training, Human Resources, and Strategy across EMBL.

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EMBL, a centre of excellence for Europe's leading molecular biologists, pursues five missions