|Quality in research||Tweeter|
"Quality" is a keyword in our current civilisation, which includes traceability, reliability, reproducibility, stability. However, in university research, it is sometimes necessary to specify the meaning, especially in order to take into account its specificity and to understand its practical implications:
Referring to quality when dealing with research issues may seem obvious. All universities intend to carry out high-quality research, producing reliable results, and contributing to increasing knowledge and science for the general benefit of the students and society as a whole.
Research is of quality …
... if it contributes to increase knowledge on a given subject
… if it is undertaken with rigour and methodically
… if it produces publishable results, in the form of works, articles, patents
… if it is recognised by peers or by authorised specialists
… if it interests and re-interests those who support it
… if it produces expected, verifiable and reproducible results
… if it produces unexpected, verifiable and reproducible results
… if, when it does not produce any results, the reasons for this can be explained
Research activities undertake always an “obligation of means”, and rarely of results. The researcher seeks, and sometimes finds, and not always what he/she thought they were looking for. This is the foundation of the research itself; the explanation of the researchers’ passion. The observation is fundamental as, although certain sponsors may be satisfied with such an approach, sometimes purely intellectual, others require more: results. And they need to be satisfied, even if there are often fewer financing possibilities for basic research and universities are always more involved in oriented research. This leads them to a voluntarist and quality-ensured approach.
Classically, the most often used criterion is the recognition by peers and specialists, who “know” what constitutes quality research. They know how to assess the teams, the results and compare them with the now global research environment. They also know, where appropriate, how to award and reward the researchers having taken the initiative for such research. They “authorise” the publication of the results in the best reviews.
Publication and quotation thus remain the most frequent indicators. The University of Liege publishes more than 20,000 publications per year, in the most reputed international reviews, in partnership with the best researchers and laboratories in the world.
In order to lay claim to given activities, especially analysis and reference activities, the accreditation, in accordance with specific standards, is essential. It requires a defined and rigorous organisation from the university laboratory, without any vagueness or imprecision, with identified, described, recognised and certified skills. The result leads to an administrative and sometimes penalising burden. The quality of the results follows on from this, with a real gain for the sponsors.
Several laboratories of the ULg are accredited as ISO-17025, Good Laboratory Practices or accredited by the Ministries.
Quality in research is also on the agenda, and more centred on good management techniques than on structures. It provides guarantees to the sponsors that the laboratories guarantee expected performance and that they are capable of meeting with the specific expectations of the beneficiaries, by “managing” their research process.
The ULg has set up a Quality in Research system, through specific projects, but also through its contribution to local or broader-scale working groups (e.g. DGTRE; European project FSE "MIRVAL" led by LIEU). This trains its young researchers – in particular doctoral students – in this analytical rigour and provides them with the tools required for the implementation. A good example is the laboratory book.
Contact(s) : Research and Development Administration