Strengthening transdisciplinary research: IOER to co-lead new CoARA Working Group

In December 2022 an international coalition for advancing research assessment was formed (CoARA). Together with partners, the IOER is now leading one of the first CoARA Working Groups confirmed at the beginning of August. The Working Group will deal with the assessment of transdisciplinarity regarding its importance for solving pressing societal problems.

The IOER has joined forces with 39 international member organisations of the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA) to elaborate new standards and guidelines for research assessment. This new Working Group (WG) focuses on pathways “Towards Transformations: Transdisciplinarity, applied/practice-based research, and impacts”. The WG has been confirmed by the CoARA Steering Board on August 7th. Starting in November 2023 it envisages a two-year interactive and inclusive co-production process.

Three subgroups will be working on closely related topics: The group led by the IOER together with FORMAS - A Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development will focus on the assessment of transdisciplinary research i.e. a critical and self-reflexive research approach that relates societal with scientific problems and co-produces new knowledge together with (non-scientific) stakeholders. The other two groups will focus on assessing applied/practice-based research and research impacts and are led by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) respectively.

Transdisciplinarity is a crucial research mode for addressing sustainability transformations and forms an important cornerstone of the IOER research programme. However, to date it remains poorly addressed by science funding agencies and evaluation rules,” says Professor Marc Wolfram, Director of IOER. “We hope to contribute to the shaping of new assessment standards that enable recognising the specific qualities of transdisciplinary research and thereby foster its acknowledgement in science and policy generally.”

CoARA, the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment, was constituted on December 1, 2022. Meanwhile, the network has more than 500 members. Already back in July 2022, an Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment was presented and signed by numerous international research institutions and organisations. CoARA pursues the broader vision of further developing the evaluation of research, researchers and research organisations. In the future, the focus should be on qualitative evaluation and quantitative metrics or indicators should only be used in a supportive and appropriate manner. The now appointed Working Groups are central to CoARA’s mission. Based on a bottom-up approach with members’ voluntary involvement, Working Groups operate as ’communities of practice’, providing mutual learning and collaboration on specific areas.

Contact at the IOER
Professor Marc Wolfram, e-mail:

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

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