Public Release: 

Launch an observatory for monitoring R + D +i at Spanish universities

Carlos III University of Madrid


IMAGE: Today the Observatory of Spanish University Research is presented. This observatory is an instrument which will allow the R + D +i activities at both public and private Spanish universities... view more

Credit: UC3M

This press release is available in Spanish.

The IUNE Observatory is the most complete platform for evaluating scientific activity and knowledge transfer that currently exists within the Spanish university system, since - according to its creators, a team of more than twenty researchers from the A4U - it includes dimensions that are not dealt with in other national or international rankings. Having initially been financed by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, it currently receives support from the Ministry of Education, which considers this laboratory the official source for indicators of research work within the Spanish university system.

With this instrument, the most significant results coming from the scientific and innovative activities taking place at 73 Spanish universities (48 public and 25 private) can be seen. The dynamic open web platform that has been created ( allows the user to visualize data from a set period and obtain graphics automatically. To do this, the platform is based on a battery of 42 clear, simple, comparable indicators of university activity, centered on 6 dimensions, which are the number of professors, the recognition that they have obtained, the characteristics of their scientific activities (production, productivity, collaboration, impact, visibility, etc.), their competitiveness in obtaining projects, innovation (patents, licenses, spin-offs, etc.) and the educational capacity of the institutions they do research for (scholarships, aid, contracts, thesis, etc.).

The information provided with regard to these six dimensions comes from the years 2001 and is updated annually for all of the indicators obtained, thanks to the data that is gathered from contrasted and accessible information sources, such as the Center for the Development of Industrial Technology (Centro para el Desarrollo Técnico Industrial - CDTI), The National Commission for the Evaluation of Research Activity (la Comisión Nacional Evaluadora de la Actividad Investigadora - CNEAI), The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (la Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología -FECYT), The National Statistics Institute (el Instituto Nacional de Estadística - INE), The Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (la Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas - OEPM), The Office for the Transfer of Research Results Network (Red OTRI) or the Web of Science platform, among others.

An increase in productivity in the universities

This set of variables allows the level of research activity to be precisely determined based on different aspects. "By using these indicators, each university can determine the characteristics of its activity and examine its position within the Spanish university system, based on its scientific activity or the subject areas it wishes to analyze", explains Professor Elías Sanz, the coordinator of the IUNE Observatory and the head of UC3M's Laboratory for Metric Information Studies (LEMI) "With the creation of the Observatory - he adds -an attempt is being made to overcome the complete and systematic lack of information that exists with regard to the scientific activity being carried out at Spanish universities.".

The results obtained, for example, show an overall annual increase in productivity at universities. At the end of the period analyzed, this increase reached a level of 95.31% over the year 2002. "It is interesting to see that 5 of the 10 most productive universities are small, which shows that it is interesting to weight the absolute values of publications by the number of professors", comments Professor Elías Sanz.

To develop the IUNE, to which various research groups from the universities involved have dedicated over three years of work, guidelines have been adopted which must follow the classification of universities, both in the international context and within Spain. In addition, it has been decided that the Berlin principles will continue to be followed in the creation of rankings of this type, which have become a very interesting tool for evaluating the activities of institutions of higher education.


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