segunda-feira, 28 de julho de 2014

Position of the External Scientific Advisory Committee of INESC Coimbra concerning the process of evaluation of R&D Units in Portugal

The External Scientific Advisory Committee of INESC Coimbra came to know with astonishment the final results of the 1st stage international evaluation of the Unit. The communicated rating is deeply disappointing for two main reasons:

a) it does not reflect the quality of this unique research center, and
b) the given scores are in disagreement to all the positive comments of the reviewers.

The members of the Committee are from different countries with a diversity of expertise owing to the interdisciplinary nature of the research center. Its report summarizes the activities of the Unit in 2011-2012 as follows:

“We would like to begin by commending you and your colleagues for your outstanding accomplishments during this timeframe. It is difficult to maintain the level of excellence in research, development, and education that INESCC has achieved over the years, but you have managed to not only do that but to continue to improve. As stated in your 2012 report, INESCC’s mission “…is to perform scientific research, technological development, and knowledge integration and transfer, based upon several disciplines of Engineering and Management Science / Operations Research, aiming at contributing to the better performance of businesses and institutions and to the progress of knowledge, within an engineering systems approach, by creatively combining theory and methodology, technical issues and human factors to tackle complex problems.” 
INESCC’s accomplishments during 2011 and 2012 were truly exceptional in every area of this mission. INESCC is one a very few institutes that successfully analyzes complex practical problems in a multi-disciplinary manner by integrating the expertise and creativity of scholars from electrical engineering and computers, civil engineering, geographical engineering, mechanical engineering, management, mathematics, and economics. This is no mean task given that the promotion systems of most universities and publishing decisions of most academic journals do not reward multi-disciplinary efforts.
We will not attempt to summarize the activities presented in the 2 reports sent to us. Instead, we highlight some of the accomplishments that we find particularly noteworthy and point out some trends that we find extremely positive. We will prepare a more detailed report after our next meeting of the Board. “

The above unanimous statement could be confirmed at the meeting of the Committee that took place on 12 May 2014 in Coimbra. Moreover, the members had to realize a steep upward trajectory in 2013-2014 indicating a successful bundling of efforts with high international appreciation. 

In addition, the Advisory Committee has been concerned with the preliminary evaluation report for the INESC Coimbra. The possibility of unclear statements in the application and of misinterpretations by the reviewers suggested clarification by a rebuttal which has been discussed with the managing Board of the Unit. Apparently, the rebuttal has been disregarded in the continuation of the evaluation process. A crucial issue has been the involvement of young researchers, an apparent reason for lower h-factors. Despite this formal disadvantage, the involvement, training and higher qualification of young researchers is considered of paramount importance and is strongly recommended.

The proposed reduction in funding is a drastic measure that will surely terminate the activities of an important research center which has been managed to grow from a few researchers to a world class inter-disciplinary research unit. This at a stage that promises smooth realization of far reaching plans in R&D and academic education.

In view of the above, the Advisory Committee is very much looking forward to the chance of
the 2n stage evaluation.

External Scientific Advisory Commitee
Prof. Carlos Alvarez, Valencia Polytechnic University, Spain
Prof. John Current, Ohio State University, U.S.A.
Dr. Helder Gonçalves, National Laboratory for Energy and Geology, Portugal
Prof. Andrej Wierzbicki, Warsaw Telecommunications Institute, Poland
Dr. Prosper Chemouil, Orange, France
Prof. Ioannis Doltsinis, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering & Geodesy, University of Stuttgart, Germany
Prof. Ian Dowman, University College London, United Kingdom

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