FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Sociologia, Antropologia, Demografia e Geografia

Unidade de I&D

e-GEO, Centro de Estudos de Geografia e Planeamento Regional [SOC-LVT-Lisboa-161] visitada em 12/10/2007

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
The explicit purpose of e-GEO is to produce knowledge for end-users and to be close to civil society.
The large amount of external research funding e-GEO is able to obtain witnesses to its strategic success and is an indication of the good quality of the applied research the unit produces. But the panel did not see much feedback of this research on the theoretical and scientific mission of the unit. Some more explicit overarching, global programme of a more specifically academic or scholarly nature is called for. The panel also noted the absence of international publication and networking. An effective strategy to develop internationalisation is of the essence.
During the period 2003-2006, e-GEO was organised along 3 groups: «Environment and development» (161 - 1283), «Spatial planning and management» (161-1284), «Methodologies and geographic information technologies» (161-1285).
The group «Environment and development» produced some major projects, apparently quite successful, but seemingly without an overall clear strategy towards developing a collective competence. Furthermore, the panel wonders on what basis the group is integrated, when there is a plethora diverse topics (such as family farming, territorial strategies, tourism,) treated by this group.
The group «Spatial planning and management» (1284) had also very heterogeneous research (spatial reshaping of the Metropolitan Lisboa, classification of the lakes in the Azores, the real-estate business,…) and its output would appear relatively low.
The third group «Methodologies and geographic information technologies» (1285) is very good. Even if this group still lacks international publications and a coherent programme, the tools and methodologies it produces are important and the corresponding know-how merits to be disseminated widely in Portugal. Furthermore, the members of the group are convinced that the resort to such technologies is more than purely technical, both presupposing and leading to epistemological perspectives.
The panel welcomed the appreciable support of the unit for the MA and PHD students. However, e-GEO could profit more from the creativity of these students and integrate their theses in the research lines and projects rather than let them choose in full freedom their theses’ subjects. This tactic would make for the development of a cumulative knowledge.
Period 2007-2010
e-GEO reorganised itself in two groups. «Spatial planning and geographic modelling» (1281), regroups more or less the former entities 1284 and 1285, and «Territory, environment and development» (1282), corresponds more or less with the former 1283. The panel is not fully convinced that this reorganisation represents an added

value in terms of general coherence because the topics are still far too varied in each line. None the less the members of e-GEO hope that this will eventually lead to a more collective and coherently streamlined way of working.
The panel felt that the amount of publications and networks had been somewhat inflated. It appears over-estimated when confronted with the same data for the former period.
In conclusion, the panel is convinced that e-GEO is performing very well for end-users and is particularly useful for decision-makers but the unit is lacking a unifying theoretical framework and should increase its international presence through publications and networks. The potential is there but has to be implemented. To be dependent to the extend in question on applied research creates the risk of dispersion and could be a handicap for the development of scientific questioning since the public organisations and the representatives of the « civil society » who are behind the contracts have their own questions and agenda which are not usually concerned with scientific perspective.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Spatial Planning and Management [RG-X-SOC-LVT-Lisboa-161-1284]
The group «Spatial planning and management» (1284) had very heterogeneous research (spatial reshaping of the Metropolitan Lisboa, classification of the lakes in the Azores, the real-estate business,…) and its output would appear relatively low.
Environment and Development [RG-X-SOC-LVT-Lisboa-161-1283]
The group «Environment and development» produced some major projects, apparently quite successful, but seemingly without an overall clear strategy towards developing a collective competence. Furthermore, the panel wonders on what basis the group is integrated, when there is a plethora diverse topics (such as family farming, territorial strategies, tourism,…) treated by this group.
Methodologies and Geographic Information Technologies [RG-X-SOC-LVT-Lisboa-161-1285]
This group is very good. Even if this group still lacks international publications and a coherent programme, the tools and methodologies it produces are important and the corresponding know-how merits to be disseminated widely in Portugal. Furthermore, the members of the group are convinced that the resort to such technologies is more than purely technical, both presupposing and leading to epistemological perspectives.
Spatial Planning and Geographic Modelling [RG-SOC-LVT-Lisboa-161-1281]
This group is a new one for the period 2007-2010, it results more or less from a fusion between the former entities 1284 and 1285. As such, it is difficult to evaluate its results as it is a new group, however the commission is not fully convinced that this reorganization represents an added value since the topics to be treated appear too different.
Territory, Environment and Development [RG-SOC-LVT-Lisboa-161-1282]
This is a new group planned for the period 2007-2010, it corresponds more or less with the former group 1283. As a new group, which as such has not yet many results, it is difficult to evaluate the group, except in reference to 1283. However, the commission is not convinced that this reorganization represents an added value since, as for 1281, the topics to be studied appear to be too diverse

Comentários da unidade

e-GEO does NOT AGREE with its evaluation result and considers indispensable to provide the following clarifications about some comments of the Panel:

It is NOT CORRECT that the “explicit purpose of e-GEO is to produce knowledge for end-users” since 19 out of 26 projects, i.e., 70% of the total amount of funding, were financed by the EU 6TH FP, other foreign sources and by FCT. However, contrary to the Panel opinion, e-GEO considers that its essential mission is to develop research aimed at meeting the needs of the territory, economy and society. In fact, this strategy follows the EU 7th FP guidelines, adopted by the Portuguese Government and the University that expect R&D institutions to intensify the search for extra funding through the production of knowledge for end users.

The Panel UNDERVALUED e-GEO efforts to increase its level of internationalization. In fact, compared with the previous evaluation period (1999-2001), e-GEO: (i) doubled its participation in international projects that, by the end of 2006 amounted to 40% of its fundamental research; (ii) tripled the number of articles in international peer reviewed journals. Also, researchers: (i) participated in scientific and/or organizing committees of 8 international meetings; (ii) intensified contacts with scientific institutions in Europe (i.e., in Spain, France, The Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom) and in Lusophonic Countries (i.e., Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique) that resulted in: (a) partnerships in projects, (b) exchange of lecturers; (c) joint advisory of doctoral students (with Sorbonne); (d) hosting post-doctoral students from Spain and Brazil; (e) joining European research networks (EUKN, PECSRL, PERN, RESER; EARSeL, RSA, ERSA).

Contrary to the Panel affirmation, ALL nine doctoral students that completed their theses WERE members of one of e-GEO research lines and/or projects.

e-GEO does not consider that the thematic heterogeneity of its research is a shortcoming but as an ADDED VALUE due to the true nature of Geographical research, that is, to study the complex interactions between natural and human elements of spatial organization. In fact, a considerable number of e-GEO projects contemplate such interactions.