DORA is an declaration, as they themselves put it, “putting science into the assessment of research”.
Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is often used to evaluate research output. JIF is calculated yearly for scientific journals. It is based on how many times its articles are cited by other articles on average. JIF was never ment to be used to evaluate indivudal researchers but to describe the quality of the journal. There are risks in evaluating research like this. The researcher might be discouraged to pursue research which is potentially high risk and groundbreaking because that kind of research needs work which does not result in articles which can be cited. A research is tempted to research in areas populated with a great number of researchers because this will potentially lead to more citations.
The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, DORA, was initiated by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) together with editors and scholarly journal publishers. The initiative came about because they saw a need to improve the evaluation of research output by research funders, universities and other institutions.
The declaration contains a number of recommendations for different players within the research world. A general recommendation is not to use journal based metrics to evaluate individual researcher’s contribution when hiring, promoting or making decisions on funding allocation. There are also recommendations to be explicit about which criteria is used to evaluate output and also to take into consideration other kinds of research outputs such as research data. Even scientific articles can be different in character and therefore resulting in different citation pattern! There is also a suggestion to make the contribution of each author more visible in the publication.