Indicators to measure Swedish research


The Swedish Research Council published a report on April 9th looking at how to measure the progress of Sweden’s national research goals. These were outlined in a government bill in 2016 (2016/17:50):

The goal for research policy is for Sweden to be one of the world’s foremost research and innovation countries and a leading knowledge nation, where high quality research, higher education and innovation leads to society’s development and welfare, the business sector’s competitiveness and responds to the societal challenges we face, both in Sweden and around the world.

But how can progress on this goal be measured? The Swedish Research Council’s report presents several indicators that can be used to assess how well these goals are met during the 10-year period the government has mandated for the following:

  • Sweden should be an appealing country for investment in research and development. The public and private investments in research and development should exceed the EU targets.
  • There should be an overall increase in research quality, and equality should improve.
  • Collaboration and cooperation with society should improve.

A summary of the indicators that will be used come from the Swedish Research Council’s report (in Swedish):

Indicators for the goal ”Sweden should be an appealing country for investment in research and development”:

  • improvement in funding for research and development in Sweden as a part of the GNP
  • funding from abroad, as well as the distribution of funding from the government, business, and other national sources

INdicators for the goal ”There should be an overall increase in research quality, and equality should improve”:

  • the ratio of highly cited publications
  • funding from EU’s Horizon 2020 programme
  • division between men and women in different employment categories
  • the gender division among newly hired professors and lecturers
  • the gender division among new PhDs
  • the proportion of women and men who have made professor within twelve years of getting their PhD

Indicators for the goal ”Collaboration and cooperation with society should improve”:

  • funding in the form of financial support and tenders to universities from all areas of society, as well as collaborations on innovation
  • split posts, where university staff also have contracts with non-higher education institutions
  • joint publications, with authors both from higher education institutions and non-higher education institutions
  • the percentage of the population that has a higher education degree
  • the percentage of the Swedish scientific publications that are available with open access

The Swedish Research Council has said that these indicators will only be used to measure progress on the national level, and won’t be used to compare higher education institutions or to distribute funding.

It’s good to see open access included in the indicators of measure of engagement with society.

Another measure mentioned in the report is bibliometrics, and there it’s reassuring to see that the authors do seem to have some insight into the flaws and limitations of bibliometrics.

The report in its entirety is only available in Swedish at the moment, and can be downloaded here: Vetenskapsrådet: Redovisning av regeringsuppdrag att utveckla uppföljning av svensk forskning

Text: Signe Wulund