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Evaluations and experiences with REI

Assessment of performance

Most REI centres undergo evaluations at one or more points in their lifecycle. The most common arrangement is an interim evaluation. Mid-term evaluations mainly serve two purposes. First, they allow funding bodies to see whether the research projects described in the applications have progressed as planned or whether any deviations have occurred. Second, they are used to judge whether or not funding should continue. The relatively long lifecycles of REI centres explain the use of such evaluations even before the funding terminates. Some REIs also provide for the possibility of increased or decreased funding as a function of the centre’s performance.

In some REIs, centres are required to provide annual progress reports. Among them are UNIK (Denmark), CoE (Finland), ProExcellence (Germany-Thuringia), Global COE and WPI (Japan), BK 21 and WCU (Korea), Centres of Excellence (Slovenia), SRA (Sweden) and STC (United States). UNIK and SRA also have mid-term evaluations. Midterm evaluations are more elaborate than written reports and may include audits, reviews or site visits. In the Finnish CoE scheme, the annual reports are aggregated to form the mid-term and final reports.31

For the Swedish Linnaeus Grants and the Berzelii Centres, the timing of reviews is slightly different, with three evaluations during a ten-year funding period. The German Excellence Initiative does not have mid-term reviews. However, units funded in the first cycle of the REI were allowed to re-apply in the second cycle (under special conditions), and 70 out of 84 projects received a second five years of funding. In a sense, this second funding cycle resembled a mid-term review in an REI with ten-year funding periods.

REI evaluations can also have a specific focus. For instance, the Swedish Linnaeus environments undergo two evaluations. This first focuses on organisation, co-operation and leadership, and the second on scientific quality, added value, gender balance and communication aspects.

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