University of Oulu research assessed to be high-quality – several research units found to be international leaders in their field

A recently published evaluation report states that University of Oulu research is strongly profiled and of a high international quality.

The purpose of the RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) evaluation carried out every six years is to assess the quality, social and scientific impact, and development targets of the university’s research activities.

The evaluation included all 54 research units of the University of Oulu faculties as well as three regional units: Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, Kajaani University Consortium and Kerttu Saalasti Institute.

Excellent research rating

At the University of Oulu, multidisciplinary research is conducted in five focus areas. The evaluators stated that, through these focus areas, the university has gained a unique scientific profile, which is directly linked to the UN’s global Sustainable Development Goals. University of Oulu research is characterised by its strong connection to the surrounding society and questions that are quintessential to northern regions.

The evaluation revealed that, in many areas, the scientific research carried out at the University of Oulu research units is internationally cutting-edge. Out of all 57 research units, 13 received the best possible rating ‘outstanding’ and 29 were rated ‘excellent’.

The evaluation also produced an overall picture of the University of Oulu’s publishing activities in 2013–2017. Of the nearly 15,000 publications, more than 80 per cent were peer-reviewed scientific publications. According to the performance indicators used in the bibliometric analysis, University of Oulu performed more than 20 percent above the world average. More than half of the publications were made in international cooperation.

The share of women in research management positions increased

The evaluation showed that the University of Oulu research environment supports the emergence of new ideas and new research openings. The multidisciplinary nature of research and the extensive networking of researchers both nationally and internationally were listed among the university’s particular strengths. The university was also commended for its successful recruitments in recent years and the increase in the share of women in leading research positions.

As development targets, the evaluators mentioned further increasing international research funding, disseminating good management practices and ensuring the continuity of research through new recruitments.

The evaluation was carried out as an international scientific peer review in 2019–2021. It was conducted by three expert panels specific to each discipline on the basis of interviews, bibliometric analyses, self-assessments by research teams and scientific action plans. The evaluation process included researchers at various stages of their careers, from doctoral students to research directors.

Taina Pihlajaniemi, Vice Rector for Research, especially highlights the self-assessments conducted by the research units and the plans for the coming years. “The plans prepared by the units and the feedback received from the prestigious external evaluators allow us to strategically develop research at university, faculty and unit levels. For the first time, we have also gained an overall picture of the research units’ engagement in the five focus areas of the university, our nine profiling themes and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” says Pihlajaniemi.

The current evaluation was the third RAE assessment conducted at the University of Oulu. More than two thousand University of Oulu research employees participated in the evaluation process.

The RAE2020 report and the bibliometric analyses can be downloaded through the links below:

Research Assessment Exercise 2020 Report. International Evaluation of Research at the University of Oulu

RAE2020 Bibliometric analyses performed by Oulu University Library

Research performance analysis for the University of Oulu 2013–2017/2019

The reports can be found also on University of Oulu's website: Research assessment

Last updated: 15.11.2021