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National Defence University’s Research Evaluated

National Defence University
Publication date 23.7.2020 14.07 | Published in English on 31.8.2020 at 12.03
Press release
Research Director of the National Defence University, Professor Hannu H. Kari

The National Defence University has started an external research evaluation process. The purpose is to evaluate the current state of both public and classified research, their impact, and the research field's facilities for success in the future.

The goals include producing data on which to build development on, and to support the strategic guidance of research.  The evaluation strives to increase cooperation between branches of science and to bring synergies to research, as well as to facilitate multidisciplinary research both within the National Defence University and in cooperation with other research organisations.

The evaluation process has four phases. It includes self-evaluation of past activities, planning of future activities, external peer-evaluation and implementing changes.

All of the research personnel of the National Defence University, its leadership, heads of departments and research support instances will participate in the external research evaluation. A project working-group and a steering group were established to support the arrangements of the evaluation. The project working-group will prepare and coordinate the evaluation project itself. The project working group is led by Colonel (G.S, ret) Markku Hutka.

For its part, the steering group is an advisory and supporting body to the project working-group. The steering group prepares and guides the content of the project plan for the external evaluation framework and the content of the self-evaluation guidance. It is also involved in the selection of the evaluation panel. The chair of the steering group is Professor Markku Löytönen.

The purpose of the self-evaluation phase, which ended in late May, was to evaluate the research environment and the quality of the research. The goal was to identify areas where research activities have been successful in during the last years, and areas that still need development. This phase was completed both on the National Defence University-level as well as on the departments’ research field-level. 

Development of Cooperation in Research

In the second phase of the evaluation, the research personnel of the National Defence University will write a research theme plan by 18 September. The plan is used to try to identify the most significant research themes that involve multiple units of the university. Additionally, the personnel will look at how to take advantage of the strengths of the previous strategy period and how to develop the areas needing improvement.

The Research Director of the National Defence University, Professor Hannu H. Kari, says that the central question of the self-evaluation is how to improve cooperation among research projects. He hopes that the second phase of the self-evaluation will create research entities where multiple branches of science and researchers can come together to research future challenges.

– In accordance with our new strategy, every researcher should have the idea in their mind about “How does new information help us to understand the different characters of war of the future, and how must we prepare for them?” Kari says. 

External Perspective Important in Evaluations

The third evaluation phase, taking place in January 2021, is a peer-review conducted by an outside evaluation panel. At this stage, external experts will evaluate the firmness of the research arguments and how they have been reached. The National Defence University will also have a familiarisation event for the panellists on 26 October 2020. 

Professor Kari says peer-review is essential in order to bring an outside perspective into the National Defence University's evaluation process.

– We have selected a wide variety of both Finnish and international academic and military experts who comprise the external evaluation panel. Thus, the evaluation panel represents an “independent peer-evaluator”, which is widely used in the university community, Kari continues. 

An evaluation report will be written by 31 May 2021 based on the results of the first three evaluation phases. The purpose of the evaluation report is to guide the operations of the National Defence University in the future, while taking into account the areas identified for improvement, both during the self-evaluation and peer-review phases.