Category: bibliometrics

Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires

A proliferation of companies, government agencies, and higher education institutions are in the grip of what Jerry Z. Muller has termed “metric fixation”. But by tying rewards to metrics, organisations risk incentivising gaming and encouraging behaviours that may be at odds with their larger purpose. The culture of short-termism engendered by metrics also impedes innovation and stifles the entrepreneurial element […]

How to keep up to date with the literature but avoid information overload

The sheer number of online services and social media platforms available to academics makes it possible to receive a constant stream of information about newly published research. However, much of this may serve only as a distraction from your research and staying on top of it all can even come to feel like a burden. Anne-Wil Harzing offers some simple advice […]

Random audits could shift the incentive for researchers from quantity to quality

The drive to publish papers has created a hyper-competitive research environment in which researchers who take care to produce relatively few high-quality papers are out-competed by those who cut corners so their bibliometrics look good. Adrian Barnett suggests one way to push back against the pressure to “publish or perish” is to randomly audit a small proportion of researchers and […]

Beyond Impact Factors: an Academy of Management report on measuring scholarly impact

What constitutes scholarly impact? And which stakeholders have importance for research? Usha Haley shares findings of a recent Academy of Management report that sought answers to these questions by surveying its 20,000 members and conducting a selection of in-depth interviews with prominent figures. A majority of respondents indicated journal rankings did not reflect scholarly impact, yet publications in top-tier journals […]

Where are we with responsible metrics? And where might we go next? Reflections from two recent events

Widespread scepticism and concern among researchers, universities, representative bodies and learned societies about the broader use of metrics in research assessment and management has led to concerted efforts to promote the “responsible use” of such metrics. But how effectively are UK higher education institutions engaging with this agenda? Lizzie Gadd reflects on two recent responsible metrics-themed events. While it is […]

Quantity does matter as citation impact increases with productivity

Many scholars are encouraged to focus on the quality not the quantity of their publications, the rationale being that becoming too focused on productivity risks reducing the quality of one’s work. But is this, in fact, the case? Peter van den Besselaar and Ulf Sandström have studied a large sample of researchers and found that, while results vary by field, […]

2017 in review: round-up of our top posts on metrics

Mendeley reader counts offer early evidence of the scholarly impact of academic articles Although the use of citation counts as indicators of scholarly impact has well-documented limitations, it does offer insight into what articles are read and valued. However, one major disadvantage of citation counts is that they are slow to accumulate. Mike Thelwall has examined reader counts from Mendeley and found them […]

Where are the rising stars of research working? Towards a momentum-based look at research excellence

Traditional university rankings and leaderboards are largely an indicator of past performance of academic staff, some of whom conducted the research for which they are most famous elsewhere. Paul X. McCarthy has analysed bibliometric data to see which research institutions are accelerating fastest in terms of output and impact. The same data also offers a glimpse into the future, helping […]

Does research evaluation in the sciences have a gender problem? What do altmetrics tell us?

Many measures used for research evaulation, such as citations or research output, are hindered by an implicit gender bias. Stacy Konkiel examines whether or not altmetrics, which track how research is discussed, shared, reviewed, and reused by other researchers and the public, might be better suited to help understand the influence of research in a more gender-balanced way. Findings suggest […]

The methodology used for the Times Higher Education World University Rankings’ citations metric can distort benchmarking

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings can influence an institution’s reputation and even its future revenues. However, Avtar Natt argues that the methodology used to calculate its citation metrics can have the effect of distorting benchmarking exercises. The fractional counting approach applied to only a select number of papers with high author numbers has led to a situation whereby […]