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The Metric Tide – Report of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management

Metrics evoke a mixed reaction from the research community. A commitment to using data and evidence to inform decisions makes many of us sympathetic, even enthusiastic, about the prospect of granular, real-time analysis of our own activities. If we as a sector can’t take full advantage of the possibilities of big data, then who can?
Yet we only have to look around us, at the blunt use of metrics such as journal impact factors, h-indices and grant income targets to be reminded of the pitfalls. Some of the most precious qualities of academic culture resist simple quantification, and individual indicators can struggle to do justice to the richness and plurality of our research. Too often, poorly designed evaluation criteria are “dominating minds, distorting behaviour and determining careers.”

At their worst, metrics can contribute to what Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, calls a “new barbarity” in our universities.  Read more…

 

Wrong Number: A closer look at Impact Factors

This was posted By sjroyle7 on May 5, 2015.

A JIF for 2013 is worked out by counting the total number of 2013 cites to articles in that journal that were published in 2011 and 2012. This number is divided by the number of “citable items” in that journal in 2011 and 2012.

There are numerous problems with this calculation that I don’t have time to go into here. If we just set these aside for the moment, the JIF is still used widely today and not for the purpose it was originally intended. Eugene Garfield, created the metric to provide librarians with a simple way to prioritise subscriptions to Journals that carried the most-cited scientific papers. The JIF is used (wrongly) in some institutions in the criteria for hiring, promotion and firing. This is because of the common misconception that the JIF is a proxy for the quality of a paper in that journal. Use of metrics in this manner is opposed by the SF-DORA and I would encourage anyone that hasn’t already done so, to pledge their support for this excellent initiative. Read more…

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