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Scientific Research: Opening the Door to the Future
Chapter 3 New Trends in the Promotion of Science
Section 3: Improving Evaluation Systems for Scientific Research
2. Current Trends m Research Evaluation

In universities, peer review has functioned effectively as a method for evaluating scientific research, subjecting it to strict evaluation from various perspectives.

(1) Evaluation of Research Topics

In Japan, grants-in-aid for scientific research are awarded selectively to support outstanding projects based on researchers' free ideas. The Science Council solicits applications, which are then subjected to impartial evaluation. The Science Council's Committee on Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research engages some 2,000 experts to evaluate research proposals, using methods that vary according to the funding category.

Figure 3-5: An Example of the Evaluation System for Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Research in Priority Areas)

The evaluation system, which includes interim and postcompletion assessments for large grants, is administered impartially and is constantly being improved ( Figure 3-5 ). Positive steps have been taken to improve the transparency of the system, such as publicizing the names of all examiners after the allocation assessment process is completed and disclosing the reasons for not accepting projects in some cases.

According to "A Survey on Scientific Research and Evaluation," which itself received a grant-in-aid for scientific research in 1994, over 80% of the researchers involved in the evaluation of projects for grants-in-aid for scientific research in fiscal 1994 were confident of their evaluations, while over 60% of the researchers who underwent such evaluations were satisfied with the results ( Figure 3-6 ). This indicates that, while there is still room for improvement, the system for evaluating grants-in-aid for scientific research is already of a very high standard and ensures appropriate and impartial evaluation.

Figure 3-6: Attitudes toward Evaluations of Projects for Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research

(2) Evaluation of Research Institutions

Since the 1991 amendment of the Standards for the Establishment of Universities, most universities have introduced self-monitoring and self-evaluation systems for their educational and research activities and have also begun to disclose the results of such evaluations ( Figures 3-7 and 3-8 ). Over the past few years, a rapidly growing number of universities have also introduced systems for external evaluation ( Figure 3-9 ).

To ensure that inter-university research institutes and joint-use research institutes attached to national universities are managed and run properly, research and educational activities in these institutions are subject to evaluation by boards of trustees made up of outside researchers and experts (inter-university research institutes), by management councils that include researchers working in the same field (inter-university research institutes), or by joint-use facility management committees (joint-use research institutes attached to national universities). In addition, over 90% of research institutes have already established their own outside evaluation organizations, and the majority now disclose the results of evaluations ( Figure 3-10 ). Almost 70% of research organizations have established internal rules for the evaluation of their activities, including management ( Figure 3-11 ).

Figure 3-7 Self-Monitoring and Self-Evaluation in Universities (as of October 1996)

Figure 3-8 Disclosure of Self-Monitoring and Self-Evaluation Results by Universities

Figure 3-9: Introduction of Outside Evaluation into Self-Monitoring and Self-Evaluation in Universities

Figure 3-10: Self-Monitoring and Self-Evaluation in Inter-University Research Institutes

Figure 3-11: Establishment of Internal Rules for Research Evaluation in Inter-University Research Institutes

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