Enhancement-led research evaluations - pilot project

On 2 february 2024, the Vice-Chancellor approved the project plan for enhancement-led research evaluations at Umeå University.

Purpose of the enhancement-led research evaluations

With the help of external experts, the project will conduct evaluations of research environments and their conditions for research that support:

  • Enhanced research quality
    The most important purpose of the evaluations is to enhance research quality through in-depth insights forming the base of improvements.
  • Confidence of external parties
    Peer review aims to maintain and improve the confidence external parties have in Umeå University.

Aim of the pilot project

Beside conducting a number of quality-driving research evaluations, the aim of the pilote project is to evaluate the process. This evaluation is intended to support the decision on a research evaluation model at Umeå University. The involved parties' experiences will be collected to ensure that the evaluations really are seen as quality driving at a reasonable costs and workload compared to the value they bring.

Take a look at the timeline for the pilot project.


Evaluations at three levels

The project covers three kinds of reviews at different levels and with slightly different specialisations:

  1. subject or department level;
  2. faculty level;
  3. university-wide level, thematically delimited to certain specific aspects looking at conditions for research.

Read more about the levels here. 

Frequently asked questions 

What are these pilot research evaluations?

A number of research evaluations are carried out at Umeå University as a pilot project during 2024–26. They happen at three levles: 1) department or subject level, 2) faculty level and 3) university-wide level where transversal evaluations focused on one or more themes will take place.

What is the purpose of the evaluations?

The purpose of the evaluations is to help maintain and further improve the quality and conditions for research at Umeå University. They also aim to strengthen confidence in Umeå University's capacity to maintain high research quality. They are carried out as a pilot project ahead of a later decision on how to organise such evaluations going forward.

Are there outside demands or expectations on Umeå University to carry out research evaluations?

Yes, each university has a responsibility to maintain high quality, and an important part of that is analysing and evaluating research quality and good conditions for research. The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions has adopted a joint framework for research quality assurance and enhancement, where one of the basic components is "recurrent reviews": ensuring that research environments regularly undergo detailed assessments through peer review. This framework also informs the Swedish Higher Education Authority's institutional reviews, which now include the universities' quality assurance processes of both education and research. Umeå University is one of the few Swedish universities who has yet to establish a model for recurrent reviews of research.

Isn't research assessed and evaluated all the time? Why do we need additional evaluations?

Indeed, the entire research system is based on peer-review quality assurance! The pilot evaluations add different values, to help us strengthen our research. They focus on departments/fields, faculties, or university-wide processes, rather than the individual researchers, projects or publications that are subject to recurring quality assurance. They also include aspects that do not have well established quality assurance mechanisms, such as public engagement and societal impact. Importantly, they focus on the conditions for research and how these may be improved. The evaluations aim to provide insights on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges as a basis for measures to improve conditions for high-quality research.

Umeå University would like to see a stronger development of our research, and quality-enhancing research evaluations is one tool in that work.

How is this expected to lead to higher research quality? Don't evaluations just steal a lot of time from research and the other parts of our core mission?

The evaluations aim to enhance research quality in several ways: A thorough self-evaluation, external reviewers' assessment and recommendations, and not least concrete quality-enhancing measures on the basis of these.

The goal is quality-enhancing evaluations - an investment in increased research quality. In other words, that time and resources spent pay off in the form of development and improvement of research conditions. On the one hand, this requires holding the workload down; on the other hand, sufficient time and energy has to be invested in self-evaluation, recruitment of reviewers, site visits and subsequent improvement measures for the exercise to be worthwhile. An important component of the pilot project is to listen to those involved and assess costs and workload in relation to the benefits.

What does it mean that it is called a pilot project?

As a pilot project, the aim is to closely follow and evaluate the process to assess what works well and what works less well. It should be experienced by those involved as meaningful, quality-enhancing, and reasonable in terms of costs and workload. Based on the evaluation of the pilots, a decision will then be taken on how research assessments should be organised at Umeå University.

Are these evaluations Umeå University's quality assurance system for research?

They are an important part of it, but by no means the only one. Umeå University's Policy for quality assurance and enhancement of research covers a culture of quality, resources for quality, the ability to make strategic choices and priorities and, to support this, a systematic focus on follow-up, analysis and evaluation of results, conditions, and processes. This latter part includes continuous follow-up and analysis as well as the external peer review assessments that the pilot project focuses on.

Project organisation

Vice-Chancellor Hans Adolfsson

Project manager
Anders Sturk Steinwall, Planning Office

Assistant project managers
Fredrik Georgsson, Planning Office
Insa Wemheuer, Planning Office

Steering group
Dieter Müller (chair), Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Hans Wiklund, University Director


If you cannot find the answers to your questions in our FAQ, please contact us at researchevaluation@umu.se

Maja Wik