Foreword: Research Assessment Exercise of the University of Turku
The University of Turku, is one of the largest universities in Finland, and an active academic community with seven faculties and 25,000 students and staff members. The seven faculties - Faculty of Education, Humanities, Law, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Medicine, Social Sciences and Turku School of Economics - together with seven independent units form the cornerstones of its scientific research. The University of Turku is an international and strongly multidisciplinary research community and it provides and develops high-quality education in Finland.
The first Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) was carried out in the University of Turku during 2015. The departments of the faculties and independent units with research activities were evaluated in the RAE. The aim of the University’s RAE2015 was to recognize strong research areas as well as those with a potential for new openings. This information is utilised in strategic planning of research activities in the units, faculties and the entire university. The RAE2015 consists of three parts: self-evaluations performed by the units, international peer evaluation and bibliometric analyses.
The planning of the RAE2015 started during the summer 2014 after hiring a project manager whose responsibility has been the design and practical running of the entire RAE project. The project manager worked in co-operation with the Vice-Rector responsible for research and the University’s Research Council which acted as the steering group. During the planning and implementation, the Project Manager was in constant contact with the representatives of the units under evaluation as well as with the faculties. The experts of the Turku University Library contributed strongly to the planning and making of the bibliometric analyses. The RAE2015 was designed to produce results which serve the entire University.
The self-evaluations concerned the main outcomes of the research activities from 2010 to 2013 in relation to the inputs. Furthermore, the impact and future research activity plans for 2015 to 2018 were in focus. For the international peer evaluation, the University hired 54 experienced experts who formed seven panels, one for each faculty. Each panel spend one week at the University of Turku, interviewing and discussing with hundreds of researcher according to the programme organised together with each faculty. The bibliometric analyses were performed by the University Library and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) of the Leiden University, in the Netherlands.
All the units worked hard for their self-evaluation, a process which was of great importance in itself, offering opportunities for creative discussions which were continued during the peer evaluation of the international panelists. The success of the process is to a great extent due to the 54 expert panelists who were very devoted to their work and spent a great amount of energy for the benefit of the University of Turku. The panels submitted their final reports at the end of their visits.
The RAE2015 provided necessary, outsider’s views on the research activities of the University. The outcome of the RAE provides valuable means for future strategic work for the University. The contribution of the excellent panelists, CWTS Leiden, researchers, units, faculties, Library as well as that of all the experts of the University of Turku who participated in the RAE project is highly valued. The results of the assessment have already had a role in the preparation of the University of Turku Strategy for 2016-2020. According to the strategy mission statement: "The University of Turku is an internationally competitive university whose operations are based on high-quality, multidisciplinary research". This statement is validated by the results of the RAE2015.
It is my pleasure to thank project manager Pirkko Mäenpää and all the people in the units, faculties, independent units and university services who contributed to the smooth and successful implementation of the assessment. The efforts, patience and enthusiasm of the Turku University Library staff is especially recommendable.
Vice-Rector for research