In the first half of 2021, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS) organised an international peer-review of large research infrastructures of Czechia. The purpose of this evaluation exercise was to obtain independent expert advice to adopt an informed political decision by the Government of the Czech Republic on the public funding of large research infrastructures in post-2022. The assessment comprised the interim evaluation of 45 large research infrastructure projects that are already financed by MEYS, and the ex-ante evaluation of 12 large research infrastructure project proposals, which were submitted as brand new in response to the outcomes of the large research infrastructures landscape analysis, mapping the science-disciplinary areas and economical fields, which haven’t been addressed by large research infrastructure projects so far. A comprehensive information material, summarising the goals and objectives of the international peer-review, principles of the methodology framework, monitoring criteria, composition of the international evaluation committee, as well as the process and the results of the assessment, was presented by MEYS at the meeting of the Czech Government, which took place on 6th December 2021.
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International peer-review confirmed high-quality of Czech large research infrastructures
“The 2021 large research infrastructures evaluation exercise was, after the assessment rounds held in 2014 and 2017, the third review of Czech large research infrastructures, which was organised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports based on the international peer-review. Leading personalities of European and global research infrastructures participated in the international evaluation committee, confirming the high-quality of Czech large research infrastructures, which are comparable to top-class research facilities operated in Europe and all around the world. The international evaluation committee thus also confirmed, inter alia, the legitimacy of public investments in large research infrastructures in Czechia, and their unquestionable benefits and impacts not only in science and technology, but also in the area of socioeconomic development,” says Robert Plaga, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports.
Almost half of a total of 57 large research infrastructure projects that completed the evaluation ranked top-class, while only a small fraction of the projects reached the average, but still solid review results, confirming their position in the research infrastructure ecosystem of the Czech Republic.
Successes of the Czech research infrastructure policy fulfil also the goals of the EU cohesion policy
“The results of this year’s international peer-review of large research infrastructures are a considerable satisfaction for research stakeholders in Czechia. Most of the evaluated large research infrastructures have undergone demanding evaluation procedures repeatedly in 2014 and 2017, and I’m very glad that their top-quality has been reconfirmed also in 2021. Given that, I’m very pleased that the evaluation committee, composed of unquestionable international experts, has confirmed the success of the Czech Republic’s research infrastructure policy-making. On the top of that, the outcomes of the review also mean the success of the implementation of the EU cohesion policy in Czechia, because the investment costs of Czech large research infrastructures have been covered in recent years by using the European Structural and Investment Funds,” says Pavel Doleček, Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Science and Research, MEYS.
A quarter of large research infrastructure projects currently financed by MEYS consist in securing the Czech participation in the construction and operation phases of international research infrastructures located in Europe, the United States and Latin America. The positive results of their evaluation confirm, among other things, the ability of the research community, industries and businesses in Czechia to participate in the most knowledge-intensive and technologically demanding research infrastructure projects all around the world.
Assessment methodology inspired by ESFRI
The methodology framework for the international peer-review of large research infrastructures of the Czech Republic was inspired by the monitoring processes of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), used to evaluate research infrastructures of the European nature, importance and impact. In this way, the assessment was carried out in accordance with the highest international standards currently used for the evaluation of research infrastructures in Europe. The methodology framework included a broad range of monitoring criteria, in particular in the areas of the knowledge expertise and technologies used by large research infrastructures, their user strategy and open access policy, governance and management, scientific data policy, cooperation with public research institutes and industrial sector at the national and international levels, long-term investment development plans, scientific performance, and socioeconomic benefits and impacts.
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International assessment committee covering all science-disciplinary areas
The review of large research infrastructures of Czechia was performed by an international assessment committee, composed of 33 internationally recognised experts divided in six review panels focused on the disciplinary areas of physical sciences and engineering, energy, environmental sciences, biological and medical sciences, social sciences and humanities, and e-infrastructures. The evaluation procedure itself combined the approach of the review panel evaluation with the approach of the external reviews, which consisted in assigning three international reviewers per large research infrastructure project. The external reviews subsequently served as independent expert inputs and supporting materials for considerations by review panels of the international evaluation committee. During the more than six-month evaluation process, review panels also had the opportunity to interview representatives of large research infrastructure projects. As a result, review panels were responsible for the final outcomes of the evaluation exercise, which were, jointly with recommendations, recorded in the consensus reports prepared for each research infrastructure project.
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Large research infrastructures’ multiannual financial framework 2023+
The outcomes of the international peer-review of large research infrastructures of the Czech Republic will be used as a basis to prepare draft state budget expenditures of Czechia on research, development and innovation for 2023, its medium-term outlook for 2024–2025 and its long-term outlook to 2028. Following the approval by the Government of the Czech Republic, which is anticipated by the end of the first half of 2022, in the second half of the year, the Government shall also adopt projects of large research infrastructures for their public funding by MEYS in the period 2023+.
The material prepared by MEYS, informing the Czech Government about the preparation, procedure and outcomes of the international peer-review of large research infrastructures of Czechia in 2021, is now available for downloading here.
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