These conclusions are drawn by the Research Council of Norway, which in 2017 appointed six panels to undertake a wide-ranging field evaluation of Social Sciences in the country. Panel 3 on political science evaluated 53 units, including FNI and two FNI research groups.

At the institutional level, FNI received a score of 4, equalling ‘very good’. The FNI research groups singled out specifically for the evaluation – European Climate and Energy Politics and International Management of Natural Resources – also received scores of 4. Thus, they fulfil the criteria ‘research with a high degree of originality, and a scientific profile with a high degree of publications in high quality channels for scientific and scholarly publications’.

Publication record is strong

The review panel emphasizes FNI’s productivity, which has led to a strong publication record in comparison with other Norwegian institutions, including the universities. The evaluation states that FNI has done ‘very well in terms of publication output in high-level reviewed journals’, that ‘the share of Level 2 book publications is very high’, and that the majority of publications are in ‘a range of prestigious journals that are mostly related to the core research areas of climate and environment (…)’.

FNI has also scored well in the Research Council’s annual ranking of publications in the institute sector. For the four last years, FNI has held the frontrunner position as the number one most publishing independent research institute in Norway, across all academic fields.

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In terms of theory development, the panel finds, among other things, that FNI research has ‘contributed to theories concerning the setting, implementation and effectiveness of voluntary standards in the pursuit of sustainability targets, such as environmental certification schemes, and to the global governance literature in the field of biodiversity and genetic resources’.

Societal relevance and impact

According to the evaluation, research produced by FNI is of practical relevance to Norwegian policy. FNI has close ties to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with research, for instance, influencing strategies relating to Norway’s positioning in relation to Russia. Also, research on themes such as the EU emissions trading system, as well as management and climate policies more generally, is considered of high societal relevance.

- This evaluation corroborates FNI’s reputation as a high-quality research institute within political science, also internationally. I’m particularly pleased that not only our academic production, but also our impact on politics and society is emphasized by the review panel, says FNI Director Geir Hønneland.