Economy vs. science: ROARA analyses conflicts in research evaluation

Research project led by the ZBW sheds light on the collision of interests in the science system

Kiel, Hamburg, 17 January 2024: In January 2024, the ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, together with an international research team, will launch the project "Impact of Open Access on Research Assessment" - called ROARA. The ROARA project analyses conflicts between economic and scientific interests and their impact on research evaluation. Prof Dr Isabella Peters from the ZBW is leading the project, which is being funded by the Volkswagen Foundation for four years.

Publications play a central role in science. Researchers use them to disseminate their scientific findings. However, publications also determine careers, as they are used to evaluate researchers. Articles in renowned scientific journals help scientists to apply for a professorship or apply for funding, for example.

When journals were still printed, publishing houses were financed by subscriptions to academic libraries. Since journals have been distributed online as part of digitisation, the open access movement has been campaigning for the removal of payment barriers in order to make academic publications freely accessible.

Many scientific institutions support this and research funders are increasingly demanding that the results of funded projects are freely accessible via Open Access. Academic publishers are responding to this by adapting their business models. Instead of charging for reading, many are now asking authors to pay for publishing. These publications can reach several thousand euros per article.

The ROARA - Repercussions of Open Access on Research Assessment project is now analysing where economic and scientific interests collide. This can be the case, for example, when publishers publish more in order to increase income, but do without sufficient quality control. These collisions and their effects on the evaluation of research are to be comprehensively analysed in this project. The results of the project will be of great importance for stakeholders in the fields of science policy, scientific communication and research evaluation.

The interdisciplinary project is headed by Prof. Dr Isabella Peters from the ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics and is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation for four years. The team from Bielefeld University, led by Dr Niels Taubert (Bibliometrics Working Group and Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science), and the team from Ottawa University (Canada), led by Prof. Dr Stefanie Haustein, Professor at the School of Information Studies and Co-Director of the ScholCommLab, bring extensive experience in mixed-methods research in the field of scholarly communication and bibliometrics. The ROARA team combines disciplinary perspectives from the fields of bibliometrics, library and information science, web science, economics and sociology of science.

Press photos Isabella Peters