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    The growing, high-stakes audit culture within the academy has brought about a different kind of publishing crisis

The growing, high-stakes audit culture within the academy has brought about a different kind of publishing crisis

The spate of high-profile cases of fraudulent publications has revealed a widening replication, or outright deception, crisis in the social sciences. To Marc Spooner, researchers “cooking up” findings and the deliberate faking of science is a result of extreme pressures to publish, brought about by an increasingly pervasive audit culture within the academy.

By now most readers will have heard […]

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    Developing approaches to research impact assessment and evaluation: lessons from a Canadian health research funder

Developing approaches to research impact assessment and evaluation: lessons from a Canadian health research funder

Assessing research impact is complex and challenging, but essential for understanding the link between research funding investments and outcomes both within and beyond academia. Julia Langton provides an overview of how a Canadian health research funder approaches impact assessment; urging caution in the use of quantitative data, highlighting the importance of organisation-wide capacity-building, and outlining the value of a […]

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    Better, fairer, more meaningful research evaluation – in seven hashtags

Better, fairer, more meaningful research evaluation – in seven hashtags

Considering the future of research assessment, Elizabeth Gadd outlines how she believes research evaluation could be made better, fairer, and more meaningful. The resulting seven guiding principles, neatly framed as hashtags, range from understanding our responsibilities to researchers as people, through to ensuring our evaluations are a more formative process, offering valuable, constructive feedback.

Imperial College recently held an event […]

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    Using citation metrics as part of academic recruitment decisions leads to an increase in self-citations

Using citation metrics as part of academic recruitment decisions leads to an increase in self-citations

The use of citation metrics in academic hiring and promotion decisions was intended as a response to important and legitimate concerns over the meritocracy of recruitment procedures. However, evidence suggests that doing so distorts scientists’ behaviour and increases the risk that these measures become unreliable. Marco Seeber, Mattia Cattaneo, Michele Meoli and Paolo Malighetti investigated the use of citation […]

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    Despite becoming increasingly institutionalised, there remains a lack of discourse about research metrics among much of academia

Despite becoming increasingly institutionalised, there remains a lack of discourse about research metrics among much of academia

The active use of metrics in everyday research activities suggests academics have accepted them as standards of evaluation, that they are “thinking with indicators”. Yet when asked, many academics profess concern about the limitations of evaluative metrics and the extent of their use. Why is there such a discrepancy between principle and practices pertaining to metrics? Lai Ma suggests […]

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    There is an absence of scientific authority over research assessment as a professional practice, leaving a gap that has been filled by database providers

There is an absence of scientific authority over research assessment as a professional practice, leaving a gap that has been filled by database providers

Research metrics have become more established as a means to assess research performance. This is understandable given research institutions’ and funders’ demand for assessment techniques that are relatively cheap and universally applicable, even though use of such metrics remains strongly contested within scientific communities. But to what extent does the academic research field of evaluative citation analysis confer legitimacy […]

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    Making visible the impact of researchers working in languages other than English: developing the PLOTE index

Making visible the impact of researchers working in languages other than English: developing the PLOTE index

As outlined in the Leiden Manifesto, if impact is understood in terms of citations to international publications, a bias is created against research which is regionally focused and engaged with local society problems. This is particularly critical for researchers working in contexts with languages other than English. Peter Dahler-Larsen has developed the PLOTE index, a new indicator which hopes […]

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    Six principles for assessing scientists for hiring, promotion, and tenure

Six principles for assessing scientists for hiring, promotion, and tenure

The negative consequences of relying too heavily on metrics to assess research quality are well known, potentially fostering practices harmful to scientific research such as p-hacking, salami science, or selective reporting. The “flourish or perish” culture defined by these metrics in turn drives the system of career advancement in academia, a system that empirical evidence has shown to be […]

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    Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires

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 […]

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    The academic papers researchers regard as significant are not those that are highly cited

The academic papers researchers regard as significant are not those that are highly cited

For many years, academia has relied on citation count as the main way to measure the impact or importance of research, informing metrics such as the Impact Factor and the h-index. But how well do these metrics actually align with researchers’ subjective evaluation of impact and significance? Rachel Borchardt and Matthew R. Hartings report on a study that compares […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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    From invisibility to impact: radically different measures are needed to capture the true impact of research

From invisibility to impact: radically different measures are needed to capture the true impact of research

Academics are increasingly expected to produce directly applicable solutions to hard-to-solve “real-world” problems such as poverty, development, and environmental degradation. However, conventional assessments of science have not yet been adequately adapted to capture the diverse effects of this type of problem-centred research. Examining a prominent recent example of multidisciplinary research on consumption, environment and sustainability in Ireland, Henrike Rau, […]

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    Analysing Altmetric data on research citations in policy literature – the case of the University of Sheffield

Analysing Altmetric data on research citations in policy literature – the case of the University of Sheffield

One of the sources of attention Altmetric.com tracks is the number of times research outputs have been cited in policy literature. Andy Tattersall and Chris Carroll explored the case of the University of Sheffield and what the data says about the impact of its research on national and international policy. The percentage of outputs with at least one policy […]

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    Quantity does matter as citation impact increases with productivity

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 […]

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    Why has no other European country adopted the Research Excellence Framework?

Why has no other European country adopted the Research Excellence Framework?

Most European countries have followed the UK’s lead in developing performance-based research funding systems (PRFS) for their universities. However, what these countries have not done is adopt the same system, the Research Excellence Framework being its most recent iteration. Instead, many use indicators of institutional performance for funding decisions rather than panel evaluation and peer review. Gunnar Sivertsen has […]

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2017 in review: top posts of the year

As 2017 nears its end and before our focus is drawn to whatever the new year might have in store, now is the perfect time to look back and reflect on the last twelve months on the Impact Blog. Editor Kieran Booluck reports on another year in which our readership has grown, and also shares a selection of the […]

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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 […]

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

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, […]

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