CoARA’s First Call for Cascade Funding

CoARA’s First Call for Cascade Funding
2024-06-26 00:00




12 months


This call for Cascade Funding aims to enhance institutional change and target pilot and exchange-of-knowledge initiatives. It will fund +20 projects facilitating knowledge-exchange, piloting new initiatives within institutions, and enabling lasting institutional change. As such, it encourages and supports research organisations to investigate and test what will efficiently work ‘in real life’.

More specifically, the first call aims to:

  • Facilitate the exchange, transfer and adaptation of proven good practices and their adoption in research organisations.
  • Catalyse the set-up or transformation of research assessment practices and tools in line with the commitments of the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment.
  • Support the development and testing of new and innovative research assessment approaches, models and procedures.

Projects can be proposed by any of the organisation types specified below through a cascading grant mechanism. By the end of the programme, it is expected to have a diverse portfolio of projects available that will translate the shared vision outlined in the Agreement into tangible, lasting institutional changes in research assessment practices.

Over 700 research organisations, funders, assessment authorities, professional societies, and their associations have agreed on a common direction and principles for reforming the assessment of research, researchers and research organisations, outlined in the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment. They have also committed to implement changes within their organisations.

CoARA, the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment, offers a platform for collaboration and mutual learning. However, given the complexity of the reform process, providing support for institutions to test, design, and carry out in-depth institutional changes is crucial to implement the Agreement commitments.

The CoARA Boost project,funded by the European Union, strengthens CoARA’s operational capacity. It provides a means to develop a critical mass for reforming research assessment, to generate gravitas for new members as well as to investigate and implement new models for research assessment.

The Cascade Funding Programme within CoARA Boost represents more than half of the project’s overall budget. This programme will support a minimum of 50 organisations in tackling specific challenges related to reforming research assessment and implementing the Agreement commitments. By supporting different types of proposals, the programme will maintain a balanced portfolio of projects. The cascade funding programme consists of two rounds of open calls, the first one launched in April 2024 and second one in December 2024.

The primary targets of the CoARA Boost Cascade Funding Programme are legal entities of the following types:

  • Academies, learned societies that implement some form of research assessment;
  • National/regional authorities or agencies that implement some form of research assessment;
  • Public or private research funding organisations;
  • Research centres, research infrastructures;
  • Universities;
  • Other relevant non-for-profit organisations that implement some form of research assessment.

Applications from faculties of universities are also eligible. However, the university needs to be formally the applicant.

As the call is meant to support institutions from across the European Research Area (ERA), only legal entities based in the EU Member States and countries associated to the Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research and Innovation are eligible to apply.

The proposal is submitted by a designated point of contact authorised to do so on behalf of the organisation they are affiliated with.

A maximum of one application per organisation is allowed for all calls.

Beneficiaries of the CoARA Boost project are not eligible to participate in the call.  In the case of beneficiaries that are umbrella organisations, their member organisations are eligible. Nominating organisations of the CoARA Steering Board members are also eligible, as the Steering Board does not directly participate in the evaluation of the proposals. The Steering Board will not have any role in both the evaluation and selection of winning applications.

The CoARA Boost cascading grants are a tool for organisations to implement the 10 commitments are enshrined in the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment(ARRA) and facilitate institutional change in the context of research assessment.  The activities eligible for support must demonstrate the commitment to a systemic change with medium-term or long-term trajectories and impact.  The grants will support organisations to develop, pilot and implement, assessment criteria, tools and processes; while avoiding contradictions across assessment systems, types and purposes, through continuous dialogue. There is room for diverse starting points and approaches. As part of the first call, three types of projects will be supported. These reflect different stages of an institution’s reform journey, namely:

  • Knowledge exchange (teaming projects)

Organisations are encouraged to share practices and experiences to foster mutual learning and ensure continuous mutual improvement, while respecting organisations’ autonomy. Teaming projects facilitate the transfer and adaptation of experience and practices from a more advanced/experienced organisation to one or more less experienced ones. In addition to knowledge transfer between institutions of the same type, co-piloting innovations across different types of organisations, such as universities and national evaluation agencies or academies and open infrastructure providers, are also welcome.

Projects could involve transferring or benefitting from existing knowledge, testing the feasibility of adapting and implementing solutions that work in another institutional context, enhancing capacity-building or enhancing open infrastructural components of responsible research assessment. These projects could allow the organisation of demonstration sessions, seminars, training as well as short visits. Other examples include the review, transfer and adaptation of documents, procedures and workflows. 

These examples of activities are provided as a source of inspiration: innovative ideas are welcome.

Maximum grant amount: 40 K€ (in total for all the organisations taking part in the teaming project)

  • Piloting (institutional pilot projects)

Institutional pilot projects offer an opportunity for institutions to experiment with and evaluate new assessment approaches, procedures,  frameworks, and tools in the context of a clearly defined initiative (such as a pilot competitive call in a university or the development of a concept). These projects help institutions develop, pilot, and implement assessment criteria, tools and processes while ensuring consistency across assessment systems, types and purposes. While the institutional change projects will address issues that are relevant for the entire institution’s assessment mechanisms and pave the way towards lasting change, institutional pilot projects target a specific action and should allow grantees to explore new modes of operation. Applications for pilot projects at the level of faculties are eligible if the application is submitted by their institution.

As institutional pilot projects should respond to specific needs within the organisation, the types of funded activities will vary from one project to another. As an example, they could involve the following: development and deployment of (IT-based) workflows, adoption of qualitative KPIs, adoption of open infrastructure, bringing more diversity to the assessment of research outputs and academic activities, balancing quantitative and qualitative criteria, training, implementing practical ways of recognising diverse research contributions, core narrative CV with different disciplinary expectations, more credit given to research project proposals whether successful or not, more credit for outreach activities, crediting societal impact and knowledge valorisation, valuing institutions contributing to move away from rankings and impact factors i.e. more responsible use of metrics, present alternatives in terms of data used to assess research groups and institutions, integration of Open Science, research data sharing contributions into research(er) assessment, simplifying research evaluation systems of increasing their flexibility  etc.

Applicants are also encouraged to gain inspiration from ‘Annex 4: Toolbox: practical tools and options to consider’ of the Agreement. Projects could involve piloting the implementation of the SCOPE framework within their organisation or testing and implementing practical solutions, such as recommendations, guidelines and tools developed by CoARA Working Groups.

Maximum grant amount: 30 K€

  • Paving the way for a lasting change (institutional change projects)

Institutional change projects provide the means to accelerate change in procedures and process in an organisation. These projects should enable a review of internal assessment processes within the awarded organisation, aiming to align them more closely with the Agreement’s commitments. If the granted organisation does not have a (well-developed) assessment structure, these projects should allow to set up such structures.

As for the pilot projects above, institutional change projects should respond to specific needs within the organisation and the types of activities funded will vary from one project to another.

All the activities listed under the “Institutional pilot projects” section are welcome, except on a different maturity level and possibly on a different scale.

Maximum grant amount: 60 K€