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    Working to the rule – How bibliometric targets distorted Italian research

Working to the rule – How bibliometric targets distorted Italian research

As Goodhart’s law states: ‘when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure’. Using bibliometrics to measure and assess researchers has become increasingly common, but does implementing these policies therefore devalue the metrics they are based on? In this post Alberto Baccini, Giuseppe De Nicolao and Eugenio Petrovich, present evidence from a study of Italian […]

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    Is our current research culture on the brink of major change?

Is our current research culture on the brink of major change?

The culture of research often appears timeless and self-evident. Despite the current system of research being critiqued for its lack of openness, diversity and at times quality, it has remained largely unchanged for at least a generation. In this post, Liz Allen, highlights how contrary to this view, a growing number of developments are currently taking place across different […]

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    Is who you know as important as what you know? Mapping the invisible colleges supporting academic prestige

Is who you know as important as what you know? Mapping the invisible colleges supporting academic prestige

A core principle of modern research culture according to the sociologist Robert Merton was ‘universalism’, the idea that the validity of ideas was independent of the status of the person making them. However, as a number of recent studies have shown in practice academia can also be exclusionary. In this post, Margath Walker shows how academic networks – invisible […]

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    The Accident of Accessibility: How the data of the Teaching Excellence Framework creates neoliberal subjects

The Accident of Accessibility: How the data of the Teaching Excellence Framework creates neoliberal subjects

The stated aim of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is to encourage excellence in teaching in higher education and to provide information for students to make improved decisions about the courses they take at university. In this post, Liz Morrish argues that contrary to these goals, the TEF is only marginally interested in teaching quality and instead contributes to […]

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Open Syllabus Explorer: evidencing research-based teaching?

Research impact is often equated with the way in which research articles are cited and used by other researchers and non-academics. An often less appreciated aspect of research impact is the impact that the ideas contained within research papers and books have when used to teach students. In this re-post Anne-Wil Harzing presents the The Open Syllabus Explorer, an online tool […]

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    India’s retrospective review of PhD research quality is set to significantly change research practices

India’s retrospective review of PhD research quality is set to significantly change research practices

India’s University Grants Commission recently invited proposals to retrospectively assess the quality of PhD theses awarded by the country’s universities over the past 10 years. In this post Santosh C. Hulagabali, outlines the potential impacts of this review on Indian universities and scholars and highlights the role of this review in signaling the quality of Indian research.   

In the […]

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    A call for funders to ban institutions that use grant capture targets

A call for funders to ban institutions that use grant capture targets

Grant capture, or the ability of researchers to secure funding for their projects, is often used as a formal metric for academic evaluation. In this repost, Dorothy Bishop argues that this practice has led to peverse incentives for researchers and institutions and that research funders have both a responsibility and a significant interest in using their influence to halt […]

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    How will the emerging generation of scholars transform scholarly communication?

How will the emerging generation of scholars transform scholarly communication?

Presenting evidence from the Harbingers Study, a three-year longitudinal study of Early Career Researchers (ECRs), David Nicholas assesses the extent to which the new wave of researchers are driving changes in scholarly practices. Finding that innovative practices are often constrained by institutional structures and precarious employment, he suggests that the pace of change in these areas is always going […]

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    The changing imperative to demonstrate social science impact

The changing imperative to demonstrate social science impact

In less than a decade the impact agenda has evolved from being a controversial idea to an established part of most national research systems. Over the same period the conceptualisation of research impact in the social sciences and the ability to create and measure research impact through digital communication media has also developed significantly. In this post, Ziyad Marar […]

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    Assessing Impact Assessment – What can be learnt from Australia’s Engagement and Impact Assessment?

Assessing Impact Assessment – What can be learnt from Australia’s Engagement and Impact Assessment?

The impact agenda is an international and evolutionary phenomenon that has undergone numerous iterations. Discussing the development and recent release of the results of the Australian Engagement and Impact Assessment (EIA), Ksenia Sawczak considers the effectiveness of this latest exercise in impact assessment, finding it to provide an inadequate account of the impact of Australian research and ultimately a shaky […]

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    Measuring Inequality – Creating an indicator to assess gender bias in universities

Measuring Inequality – Creating an indicator to assess gender bias in universities

Higher education and research institutions are increasingly coming to terms with the issue of gender inequality. However, efforts to move in this direction are often isolated and difficult to compare and benchmark against each other. In this post, Caroline Wagner presents a new initiative from the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden (CWTS), to assess gender inequality […]

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    The “impact” of the Journal Impact Factor in the review, tenure, and promotion process

The “impact” of the Journal Impact Factor in the review, tenure, and promotion process

The Journal Impact Factor (JIF) – a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in a journal – has been widely critiqued as a measure of individual academic performance. However, it is unclear whether these criticisms and high profile declarations, such as DORA, have led to significant cultural change. In this post, Erin McKiernan, Juan Pablo Alperin […]

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    The careers of carers – A numerical adjustment cannot level the playing field for researchers who take time off to care for children

The careers of carers – A numerical adjustment cannot level the playing field for researchers who take time off to care for children

Quantitative measures of the effect of caring for children on research outputs (published papers and citations) have been used by some universities as a tool to address gender bias in academic grant and job applications. In this post Adrian Barnett argues that these adjustments fail to capture the real impacts of caring for children and should be replaced with […]

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    Book Review: Scholarly Communication and Measuring Research – What Does Everyone Need to Know?

Book Review: Scholarly Communication and Measuring Research – What Does Everyone Need to Know?

Academics are required to not only find effective ways to communicate their research, but also to increasingly measure and quantify its quality, impact and reach. In Scholarly Communication: What Everyone Needs to Know, Rick Anderson puts us in the picture. And in Measuring Research: What Everyone Needs to Know, Cassidy Sugimoto and Vincent Lariviere critically assess over 20 tools currently available for evaluating the […]

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    Are altmetrics able to measure societal impact in a similar way to peer review?

Are altmetrics able to measure societal impact in a similar way to peer review?

Altmetrics have become an increasingly ubiquitous part of scholarly communication, although the value they indicate is contested. In this post, Lutz Bornmann and Robin Haunschild present evidence from their recent study examining the relationship of peer review, altmetrics, and bibliometric analyses with societal and academic impact. Drawing on evidence from REF2014 submissions, they argue altmetrics may provide evidence for […]

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    Book Review: Hacking Life: Systematized Living and its Discontents by Joseph M. Reagle, Jr.

Book Review: Hacking Life: Systematized Living and its Discontents by Joseph M. Reagle, Jr.

In Hacking Life: Systematized Living and its Discontents, Joseph M. Reagle, Jr. explores the cultural trend of life hacking in its myriad forms as rooted in both the increasing pressures to perform to the maximum of our abilities and technological advances that are enabling us to monitor and quantify the world in unprecedented detail. The book not only lays bare an increasingly […]

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    “If you use social media then you are not working” – How do social scientists perceive altmetrics and online forms of scholarly communication?

“If you use social media then you are not working” – How do social scientists perceive altmetrics and online forms of scholarly communication?

Altmetrics – web-based measures of research usage – have existed for a decade. However, a significant proportion of social science research fails to register any online attention at all. This impairs the usefulness of altmetrics as a tool to understand the relevance of social science research and also suggests social researchers are less inclined to engage in online arenas. […]

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    Counting is not enough – How plain language statements could improve research assessment

Counting is not enough – How plain language statements could improve research assessment

Academic hiring and promotion committees and funding bodies often use publication lists as a shortcut to assessing the quality of applications. In this repost, Janet Hering argues that in order to avoid bias towards prestigious titles, plain language statements should become a standard feature of academic assessment.

Let’s start with the obvious. Evaluation and assessment are part and parcel of the […]

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    Invisible impact and insecure academics: structural barriers to engagement and why we should do it anyway

Invisible impact and insecure academics: structural barriers to engagement and why we should do it anyway

Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a form of research that involves prolonged and deep engagement with local communities and can produce profound social impacts. In this post, Dr Katrina Raynor describes how current approaches to impact assessment and the structure of the academic labour market impede researchers from engaging with PAR and raise particular challenges for insecurely employed early […]

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This work by LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.