Research Evaluation

The evaluation of research activities has been written into the statutes of Irstea and those of their staff. The fundamental principles of the research evaluation have been reaffirmed in the research programme law of 18 April 2006 and during accompanying debates.

Since 1988, Irstea’s specialised commissions have conducted several systematic and regular cycles of evaluation for both action groups and individuals. Irstea has focused on implementing an evaluation system that covers all of the participating activities in the research mission, illustrated by its contribution to the inter-establishment focus group, Erefin. Thus, while prioritising the excellence of the scientific initiatives, the evaluation ensures the pertinence of objectives and the usefulness of the work.

In 2006, the newly created research and higher education evaluation agency (AERES) was made responsible for the evaluation of establishments and research groups and the validation of staff evaluation procedures offered by the education and research establishments.

In this new context, Irstea drew on its strategic "Irstea 2020" plan and the Aeres organisation evaluation in September 2008  to confirm the thematic foundations of the research organisation, while reinforcing the clarity of its action in its areas of competence and demonstrating a genuine, collective scientific ambition.

2012-2013, an evaluation cycle in three parts: the action group, the establishment, the individual

The theme of research makes up the “action group” part to be evaluated by the Aeres in spring, 2012. The Irstea research activities are organised within 12 research areas. They are situated in three departments which make reference to the three areas of excellence underpinning the establishment (Water, Ecotechnologies and Land Use).

In autumn 2012, the Aeres will re-evaluate the Irstea establishment.
In 2013, Irstea will implement the evaluation of scientific staff by their authorities following validation of their procedures by Aeres.

The Specialised Commissions                                                   

The four specialised commissions (CS) at Irstea are think tanks responsible for advising the establishment on their scientific and technological guidelines, with one in each sector of activity (Water, Eco-technologies, Territories, Research Support).  They will remain in place for a period of four years and are composed principally of outside persons from both the scientific community and economic and social sectors involved. A person from a different organisation will take on the role of Chairperson for each CS.

In conjunction with the evaluations conducted by the Aeres since the law of 2006, the CS has been associated with the periodic evaluation of the activity of the research groups.

Sitting in a restricted formation and joined by outside experts, the CS evaluate the staff based on an informed perspective of group challenges. Finally, they play an essential role in the recruitment of researchers and Irstea research engineers.

Erefin inter-organisational think-tanks

In 2005-2006, an initial internal analysis of the impact of Irstea work underlined the need for an in-depth reflection upon the evaluation of the targeted research. In the same vein, Irstea and INRA launched an Erefin (Evaluation of targeted research) inter-organisational work group in 2006.

With rapid expansion to numerous targeted research sectors, this group promotes the development and division of fundamental and methodological questions posed by the evaluation of this research. The work aims to better integrate the current challenges of synergy between research and society (social monitoring, diffusion of scientific culture, building partnerships, etc.).

The Erefin group is focused upon building a typology of different activities run by research action groups, specifying the diversity of products and results likely to give a quantified description before proposing several methods for approaching the evaluation of the quality of the results.

This work was used by the action groups of numerous research organisation group members in the preparation of their evaluation.

Irstea evaluation report by Aeres – September 2008

The Research Evaluation and Higher Education Agency website



Assessment Delegation (DEV)

Marie-Hélène CRUVEILLE: Director, Assessment Delegation
+33 (0)4 76 76 27 48

Almerinda PINTO: Assistant, Assessment
+ 33 (0)1 76 76 62 73

Pierre-Xavier SABAINI: Assistant Engineer in support of preparing assessments for AERES 2012
+33 (0)4 76 76 28 64