Process for appointing experts
The AERES has defined and implements a procedure for selecting experts so as to provide it with a wide range of skills for fulfilling its missions. This procedure involves drawing up a list of experts on whom the AERES has already called. In accordance with the AERES’ transparency principle, this list, to which the experts’ CVs are appended, is published on the AERES website and adds further credibility to evaluations by giving everyone the possibility of assessing the quality of experts called on.
Forming the pool of potential experts
The texts stipulate that the Agency hear proposals of experts from:
- 1. members of the Board and department heads
- 2. presidents or directors of institutions and research organisations, higher education and research institutions, scientific cooperation foundations and institutions as well as the French National Research Agency
- 3. presidents of evaluation bodies whose procedures the Agency is tasked with validating.
Since it was set up in 2007, the Agency has consulted all of the stakeholders concerned to note down their proposals. The department heads and the proposal bodies and institutions that are called on periodically constantly ensure that this pool is kept up-to-date. In order to open this pool up to a wider section of experts, particularly from abroad, the AERES calls on foreign evaluation agencies and, in 2010, has given experts the chance to apply for reviews on its website. To date the AERES has a pool of a little over 10,000 potential experts.
Criteria for inclusion on the list of experts
After participating in an initial evaluation, an expert is included in “the list of registered experts”. This procedure is not automatic, however. At the end of each evaluation campaign, the departments review the contributions of newly called-on experts and suggest to the Agency President that they be included on the list of experts for four years, except those who have not abided by:
the Agency’s ethical rules, and particularly those concerning:
- respect for people
- conflict or proximity of interests
- confidentiality of the evaluation
the procedures set up by the AERES, particularly on:
- attendance at the different committee meetings
- the procedure for writing reports
- the quality of the arguments in and content of the draft report (or of the contributions to the draft report)
- submission of the draft report (and contribution to the draft report) on time
- use of the Agency’s group tools
- the Agency’s applicable administrative regulations.
The departments’ proposals are harmonised by the inclusion committee (President, department heads, secretary-general and advisor to the president for legal affairs) and validated by the President in the last resort. Inclusion in the list is valid for 4 years. However, in the event of a breach of the aforementioned rules during this timeframe, the same procedure may be applied to remove an expert from the list.
Procedure for appointing members to an expert committee
The AERES pays careful attention that its committees are formed in keeping with the principles of independence, fair handling of the evaluated institutions and collective responsibility. Under the authority of the department head, the scientific delegates appoint a balanced panel of experts to each committee, including the chairman, and ask the evaluated institution if it has observed any conflicts of interest.
The size and makeup of the expert committee vary depending on the type of evaluation:
- 6 to 10 for an institutional evaluation; the committee systematically comprises one student if the evaluation concerns a training institution
- 8 on average for the department for the evaluation of research units. For this department, the regulations provide that each expert committee comprises one representative put forward by the staff evaluation body of each institution to which the evaluated unit is attached (CNU, CoNRS, INSERM specialized committees, etc.)
- 4 on average for doctoral schools
- for bachelor’s degrees, the committee gathers together all the experts evaluating the range of programmes offered by the same geographical site, at a proportion of one expert per training field.
- for master’s degrees, four committees are formed per geographical site: sciences and technologies, life, health and ecology sciences, social sciences and humanities and law/economy/management, at a proportion of two experts per master’s speciality
The committee members are indicated in each evaluation report. For the evaluation of bachelors and masters, the list of experts is presented per campaign for all committees combined.