The Research Council of Norway (RCN) has just launched the final report of an evaluation of social sciences in Norway (SAMEVAL), emphasizing that PRIO is one of only five institutions in Norway recognized for hosting a world leading social science research environment. Together with the evaluation of the humanities (HUMEVAL), and the evaluation of the social science institutes (INSTEVAL), both completed last year, this completes PRIO’s part in a thorough and thought-provoking process. The two subject-specific evaluations looked at the impact of research at the national, institutional and research group level, providing useful feedback and recommendations to PRIO’s different disciplines and (multi-disciplinary) research groups.
The three evaluations consistently demonstrate the recognition of PRIO as a leading academic environment, in Norway as well as internationally.
Among the social sciences, PRIO is one of just five research environments in Norway that scored highest at both the institutional and research group level.
Speaking to Dagsavisen, Professor Katarina Eckerberg, chair of principal evaluation committee, said that these five separated themselves from the rest by having created a creative and stimulating research environment, with regular seminar activities, invited guest researchers, active international research collaboration, and research stays in international environments, as well as publishing in international well-reputed journals, having an active knowledge exchange with different social actors, and a relatively stable and long-term financing.
At the institutional level, PRIO was evaluated under two social science panels: ‘Political Science’ and ‘Geography’. Of all the 22 institutions evaluated in political science, PRIO is the only institution across the universities and research institutes in Norway that gets the top score of 5 (‘Excellent’). Of the 12 institutions evaluated in geography, PRIO was among the four institutions that scored 4 (‘Very Good’), while no institution scored 5.
Three of the six impact cases that PRIO submitted for evaluation are highlighted in the report as 'good practice' cases: Debunking conflict myths; Defining global policy on climate conflict; Conflict is development in reverse.
At the institutional level, PRIO was evaluated under two humanities panels: ‘Philosophy and Studies in Science and Technology’ and ‘Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Area Studies’. PRIO was the only research institute evaluated within these areas. The evaluation said that PRIO is a ‘truly world-leading institution’ and praised its multidisciplinary efforts, its high social relevance and its contributions to public debate (in particular on nuclear disarmament, societal security and refugee issues).
At the research group level, PRIO’s groups on ‘Regions and Powers’ was evaluated by the ‘Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Area Studies’ panel, and scored a 5 (‘Excellent’). Of the 17 research groups evaluated by that panel, only two other groups received full marks (‘Political, Social and Ideological Change in the Middle East’ and ‘China Airborne’, both at UiO’s humanities faculty). PRIO’s research groups on ‘Humanitarianism’ and ‘Law, Ethics and Religion’ were evaluated by the ‘Philosophy and Studies in Science and Technology’ panel, scoring 4 and 5 respectively. Of the 15 research groups evaluated by this panel, only two others got a 5 (the ‘Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature’, and ‘Conceptual Engineering’, both at UiO’s humanities faculty).
The evaluation of the social science institutes (not subject-specific) praises PRIO for its academic quality, its communication with various audiences, and the societal impact of its research. The committee recommended increased collaboration between the institute and university and college sectors, something that PRIO has been actively addressing.
While the evaluations acknowledge much of what PRIO is doing right, it also makes some clear recommendations, including attracting more PhD students, further developing strategic ties with the University of Oslo, being more relevant to the universities’ curricula, and increasing the visibility of some areas of PRIO’s research. Much of the feedback will be taken onboard and addressed in the new PRIO Strategy (2018-2021) which will be soon published.