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Norwegian Humanities research evaluated as internationally recognized, but in need for strong strategy

After three decades, Norway’s Humanities research has for the first time undergone a comprehensive evaluation, commissioned by the Norwegian Research Council (RCN) as one of its statutory tasks. The evaluation that concluded this month, commenced in 2015 and was carried out by 54 international experts structured into eight field panels, which evaluated 2 300 researchers and 97 research groups in a total of 36 organisations. The evaluation which aims to critically and comprehensively assess Norway’s Humanity research yielded a set of recommendations to raise quality and efficiency, directed at three key actors - Institutions, the RCN and the Government. The evaluation for the first time includes the interplay between research and teaching and a special focus on societal impact. Subject specific evaluations provide a review of the Norwegian research system in an international perspective, identifying potential areas where Norway could be at the international forefront.  

According to national statistics, there are 3100 academic staff in humanities positions, 27 000 students studying in the discipline and Norway is currently investing about 1.8 billion NOK (approximately EUR 1.92 billion) annually in the sector.

The findings show that humanities research is performing well according to international standards, scores high on scientific quality and relevance to society and is well resourced. Positive developments that took place over the past ten years include publication volume, doctoral education and the performance of collaborative research. The report points out, although societal impact for humanities research is high, with wide-ranging collaboration between public and private institutions, there is room for improvement in widening the scope of research to reach beyond a focus on national contexts, thus strengthening the link to larger international phenomena.

The productivity of researchers in the discipline is good in comparison to other disciplines, but with 26% of researchers having no publication points at all, and one third of non-publishing researchers at PhD level, there is a clear need for developing the field in a range of institutions. Recommendations to institutions include the allocation of sufficient time to conduct high quality research, to encourage researchers to target more internationally leading than low-tier scientific journals, and the Government and RCN are advised to incentivise more collaboration among scholars across different national institutions.  



The principal recommendation that follows from a two year effort to evaluate the discipline is that “both the Norwegian Government and the individual institutions should develop stronger strategies and priorities for humanities research’’.

Going forward, activities for a Follow-up plan of the evaluation will begin this autumn, with a large scale meeting held on 20 September 2017.

The Research Council of Norway – Evaluation of the Humanities in Norway, Principal Report

The Research Council of Norway – All evaluation reports according to panel

The Research Council of Norway – Press release