Quality of research

The University promotes continuous improvement processes in its Departments in relation to Research and Third-Mission activities.

The Quality Assurance Board, Department delegates for Quality Assurance, Directors and local bodies work together to define shared self-assessment and planning processes, in line with the University's strategies. 

Quality Assurance at department level focuses on:

  • supporting departmental three-year planning and monitoring activities
  • constantly monitoring research results, through ad-hoc tools and indicators
  • directing, collecting and monitoring Third Mission and Technology Transfer activities
  • assessing the results of monitoring activities, and proposing improvement actions.
The Quality Assurance System

Learn more about QA processes and people.

Quality assurance processes

At the request of the Quality Assurance Board, and in order to improve the planning, action, monitoring and review cycle, the University launched Departmental Three-Year Plans (PTD) for the period 2017-2019. These plans, replacing the Annual Data Sheet for Department Research (SUA-RD), were drawn up in line with the goals of the University Strategic Plan and the Quality Policies.

Their progress was monitored by the Departments and the Quality Assurance Board.

Alongside the publication of the University Strategic Plan for the period 2020-2022, the Departments were invited to create a second planning cycle, with the University and Departmental plans sharing some of their goals – a significant innovation.  

This new effort was supported by a specific training event and the publication of planning guidelines.

The new departmental three-year plans are divided into the following sections:

  1. Context analysis
  2. 2020-2022 planning
  3. Department mission
  4. Strategic planning and goals
  5. Resource distribution criteria
  6. Department Quality Assurance system.

Having been engaged since 2005 in the construction of a reliable and comprehensive database to support decision-making in offices and departments, the University of Milan has established an institutional archive (AIR/IRIS) which gathers all the publications of the University's professors, researchers, grant holders, fellows and doctoral students.

Thanks to a staff of five, which deals with the control and validation of the data collected, AIR is one of the few certified archives in Italy.

The data collected in AIR can be consulted both by administrative officers and by departmental directors and their delegates, the latter of whom can thus obtain information on the results of research carried out in their department in real time, even relative to other departments/divisions of the University.

Work on the reliability of the research data sought by the University of Milan extends to data collected in the international databases (Scopus in particular), and to this end the University is aligning profiles in the Scopus and WOS  databases with ORCID.

Starting from 2019, AIR/IRIS also is the repository of information on public engagement activity carried out by the university's departments, professoriate and researchers.

AIR documents the University of Milan's adherence to the principle of open science as one of the main objectives of research activity. The University also advances this goal also through the Unimi journal platform, dedicated to the publication of Open Access periodicals.

The Research Quality Assessment (VQR) periodically conducted by the Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes (ANVUR) takes into consideration the scientific results and Third-Mission activities of Italian universities and research institutions.

The 2015-2019 exercise, for which a call for applications was published in January 2020, with an update in September, is structured across 17 Scientific Areas and 1 Third-Mission Interdisciplinary Area.

For each of the 17 Scientific Areas, the ANVUR has selected a Group of Evaluation Experts (GEV) among Italian and international scholars, with the task of defining the evaluation criteria and assessing the research produced by professors and researchers. Moreover, the ANVUR has appointed an Interdisciplinary Group for Third Mission / Impact, which will analyse the case studies proposed by each university. The maximum number of research products to be submitted by each university was set as three times the number of professors and researchers on staff as of 1 November 2019, expecting each scholar to submit up to 4 products. As far as the Third Mission is concerned, the current VQR process requires the number of case studies submitted to be half the number of Departments.

Quality is assessed against the following criteria: originality; rigorous approach; actual or potential impact. This analysis results in a synthetic judgment on a research product, on a five-level scale: excellent and extremely relevant; excellent; average; sufficiently relevant; scarcely relevant or not acceptable.

Research facilities are also assessed for their recruitment and training policies.

For further information

For support and information on VQR, please contact the Performance, Quality Assurance, Evaluation, and Open Science Policy Division, which coordinates and supports the Departments in data collection and presentation, and the University in the analysis of results.


Departments of excellence

The 2017 Stability Law (No. 232/2016) establishes a "Fund for the financing of university departments of excellence", which, by means of five-year grants, aims to promote the activities of university departments characterized by excellence in research quality and in scientific, organizational and educational planning with reference to the research goals set out in Industry 4.0.

16 of the 32 Departments of the University of Milan subjected to VQR were admitted to the selection, 6 obtained the maximum ISPD score (100), 8 are among the 180 departments financed.

February 2020 saw the approval of the guidelines for monitoring Third Mission (TM) activities carried out by the Deputy Rector for Third Mission, local and cultural activities, with the support of the TM Office and the involvement of the Quality Assurance Board.

The University Departments and the Deployment of Intellectual Property and Innovation Division, in close contact with the Deputy Rectors for Third Mission, the Local Area and Cultural Activities, and for the Deployment of Intellectual Property and Knowledge Transfer, work together to oversee and promote Third Mission activities in the local area.