On 27 April 2016, the South East European University in Skopje hosted a debate “Securing the high quality process of assessment of research project proposals”. The debate was organised by the Foundation Open Society Macedonia, as part of the RRPP National Policy Dialogue
in Macedonia. Around twenty representatives of the scientific research community attended the event, including deans, professors, representatives of research organisations, independent researchers, as well as former Macedonian ministers and deputy ministers of education and science.
The speakers were Prof. Miso Dokmanovic, from the “Iustinianus Primus” Faculty of Law, University “Ss Cyril and Methodius” (Skopje), and Elena Anchevska, from the European Policy Institute. The moderator was Prof. Veton Latifi, from the “Max van den Stoel” Institute, South East European University.
The debate started with a presentation of comparative experiences. Prof. Miso Dokmanovic introduced practice from several Western Balkan and Eastern European countries, including the key elements of research project assessment: criteria, principles, evaluation body, evaluators, scoring, coordination, and publishing of the results.
Based on comparative research, Dokmanovic suggested the that the number of criteria for the evaluation of research projects should be reduced. There is a need to change the calculation of the final grade, especially in terms of how quality and innovativeness of projects and research team profile are weighted. An independent body for assessment of research projects should be established, evaluators should be international experts, while the results should be communicated to each applicant, along with the application evaluation report.
Similar recommendations were derived from the research conducted within the RRPP National Policy Dialogue
in Macedonia. As the researcher Elena Anchevska pointed out, the state should introduce mandatory publishing of funding recipients’ data (e.g. in a brochure with brief summaries of the projects and information on the research teams). Rejections should not be public, but each applicant should be informed of the results, and should receive a detailed evaluation report. Promotional and informative events on relevant topics (e.g. what is crucial for a good project) should be organised regularly. All information about calls for proposals, assessment procedure and projects should be publicly available, both on the website of the Ministry, and on the webpages of line institutions, with clearly defined expectations for projects, and open access data bases that will include project application, project report, and achieved results.
Video from the debate can be viewed here