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James Wilsdon, Professor of Science and Democracy at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, will chair the review, supported by an independent steering group drawn from higher education institutions, research funders and national academies. The review will draw on evidence and ideas from a wide range of sources. A formal invitation to submit evidence will be issued shortly.

Professor Wilsdon said:

‘Metrics of various kinds have become an increasingly prominent part of university and research life over the past 10 years. Some people proudly stick their H-index (Note) at the top of their CV. Others see certain metrics as methodologically flawed, administratively burdensome or corrosive of academic freedom. I want this review to chart a thoughtful, balanced and evidence-based path through these debates.

‘Used appropriately, bibliometrics and altmetrics can make a helpful contribution to the measurement and management of research and its wider impacts. If we look beyond the 2014 Research Excellence Framework to the future design of the UK’s research system, we need to understand which metrics are most valuable, when to use them, and why. And we need to put in place guidelines and safeguards to avoid the misuse of metrics and the gaming of evaluation systems.’

The review will consider the role of metrics-based assessment in determining the quality, impact and other key characteristics of research undertaken in the higher education sector. The outcomes will be of interest to higher education institutions, research organisations and research funders.

The project will run until Spring 2015.

David Willetts said: 

‘As we are increasingly able to analyse large, linked datasets our reliance on metrics is likely to grow. Drawing on expertise from across higher education and research, this review will consider the robustness of metrics across different disciplines and how they can be used to assess the quality and impact of research.'

David Sweeney, HEFCE’s Director for Research, Innovation and Skills, said:

‘Measuring research performance is important for institutions for many reasons, and is also central to national research assessment. The outcomes of this review will be of interest to universities and governments worldwide as they consider how best to do this. We have assembled an eminent group of experts to steer this review, and I look forward to receiving their advice on this important topic in due course.’

More about the review

Notes

The H-index measures how many highly-cited papers a researcher has written.