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VSNU signs San Francisco declaration

Press release

Focus on quality of academic output

As the representative of the Dutch universities, VSNU President Karl Dittrich will today be putting his signature on the San Francisco Declaration. This international declaration calls on universities, scientific organisations, public authorities and publishers to evaluate academic research on quality and social relevance over aspects such as the reputation of the journal in which the research is published or its Journal Impact Factor. VSNU President Karl Dittrich: ‘We see signing the San Francisco Declaration as a positive step in demonstrating that the foremost metric for judging scientific output must be its merit.’


The San Francisco Declaration is an initiative of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). In 2012, it met with a group of editors and publishers of scientific journals to develop a set of recommendations aimed at promoting the evaluation of research output on its quality and social impact. The Declaration further calls on universities to be explicit about the criteria applied when hiring, promoting and offering tenure to researchers. A huge number of scholars, scientific organisations and sector organisations around the world have already signed the Declaration. The VSNU is now among them.

Already, the VSNU, KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) and NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) have more precisely demonstrated the emphasis that Dutch universities place on the quality and social relevance of scientific and scholarly output in the Standard Evaluation Protocol 2015-2021 (SEP). With the signing of the San Francisco Declaration, the Dutch universities are underscoring their commitment. Karl Dittrich explains, 'These discussions about academic practice and academic policy are taking place at a growing number of institutions around the world, and the Dutch universities are keen to take the initiative.'

Signing at Science in Transition symposium
The Declaration will be signed today during the Science in Transition symposium in Amsterdam. According to the symposium's organisers, it is crucial to evaluate research output on the scientific and social value it generates. ‘We are very happy that the VSNU is signing this Declaration', says Professor Frank Miedema, dean of the University Medical Center Utrecht and one of the initiators of Science in Transition. 'In doing so, the Dutch universities are sending an important signal that impact factors and other bibliometric parameters should not be the primary criteria for assessing scientific quality. The focus should be on content.'


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Ruben Puylaert

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