European strategy forum on research infrastructures (ESFRI) has published Report of the ESFRI Working Group on monitoring research infrastructures (RIs) performance. The ESFRI Working group developed a common approach to monitor research infrastructures performance based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). They will be used in review of ESFRI Landmarks and moreover, they may be useful for a wider range of research infrastructures, funding authorities and stakeholders.
“Ultimate goal is to have high quality monitoring system in Europe – that can be ESFRI´s contribution to European research,” said Adam Tyson, Head of Research and Industrial Infrastructures at DG Research and Innovation at European Commission.
Invitation to a common approach
In the meeting of 29 May 2018, the Competitiveness Council adopted conclusions on Accelerating knowledge circulation in the EU which: “…; INVITES Member States and the Commission within the framework of ESFRI to develop a common approach for monitoring of their (RIs) performance and INVITES the Pan-European Research Infrastructures, on a voluntary basis, to include it in their governance and explore options to support this through the use of Key Performance Indicators”.
Following the invitation by the Competitiveness Council ESFRI established a Working group on monitoring. Under the leadership of Peter Wenzel-Constabel the group developed a list of KPIs for periodic review of ESFRI Landmarks. That means, those infrastructures that can be already delivering science services and granting user access or can be in advanced stage of construction with a clear schedule for the start of the Operation Phase.
Work on the preparation of KPIs has been going on for more than a year and has included extensive discussions, meetings and workshops with the participation of research infrastructures representatives. More than eighty participants attended the workshop in Brussels in July 2019. The final report was also supported by a three-day workshop organized by ESFRI on La Palma from 6 to 8 November 2019.
Based on consultations with research infrastructures, the Working group prepared a list of 21 KPIs, which were tested against the RACER criteria – relevant, accepted, credible, easy and robust. “We know that not all indicators are applicable to all research infrastructures,” said Slovenian ESFRI delegate Jana Kolar, who was a member of the Working group. However, the results of the report indicate that the developed KPIs can be effectively implemented and adapted to the specific nature and context of individual research infrastructures. This may be particularly important for research infrastructures in the late stages of the life cycle, such as the stage of construction.
Recommendation for research infrastructures
The proposed monitoring approach is designed in such a way that it can be applied to other research infrastructures or to evaluations of research infrastructures outside the ESFRI context. The working group recommends such research infrastructures and their stakeholders to consider adopting the approach for their own purposes. It should be particularly useful for those research infrastructures who have not yet developed KPIs or who have little experience of doing so.
“The proposed methodology is by no means aimed at prioritising research infrastructures. On the contrary, KPIs should help to address the unique aspects of each research infrastructure and ideally help their management and internal management processes,” stressed ESFRI Chair Jan Hrušák from the J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Science.
The discussion on the implementation of the monitoring framework for ESFRI Landmarks will continue during the ESFRI plenary meeting in Zagreb on 19-20 March.