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Durham University

University Library

Bibliometrics in the REF and University Rankings

Citation and publications based metrics are used as part of the methodlogy, or as supporting evidence, in several global university league tables and national research assessment exercises. These include, but are not limited to, the below.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

  • In REF2014, citation data from Scopus was used by 11 of the 36 sub-panels, "as additional information about the acadmeic significance of submitted outputs".
  • For REF2014, Journal level metrics such as the Journal Impact Factor, were not supposed to be used to inform the assessment of research outputs by sub-panels.
  • The Stern Review, published in July 2016, recommended that citation metrics could be used to support REF sub-panels in their assessment of outputs, but that "it is not currently feasible to assess research outputs in the REF using quantitative indicators alone."
  • For REF 2021, Clarivate Analytics (Web of Science) will provide citation data which will be used by 11 of the 34 sub-panels (sub-panels 1-9,11 and 16).

QS World University Rankings

  • The QS World University Rankings use the previous 5 years worth of citation data from Scopus in their ranking methodology.
  • 'Citations per faculty' accounts for a 20% weighting in the calculation of the overall scores.

Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings

  • The THE World University Rankings use 6 years of citation data from Scopus in their ranking methodology.
  • 'Citations (research influence)' accounts for a 30% weighting in the calculation of the overall scores.

The Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities

  • The Shanghai Rankings use publication and citation data from Web of Science in their ranking methodology.
  • Indicators used include a measure of the number of Highly Cited Researchers as identified in Web of Science, the number of papers published in Nature and Science journals, and a measure of publication output.
  • Together these indicators accounted for a 60% weighting in the calculation of the overall scores.

For further information on the REF or University Rankings, please contact Research & Innovation Services or the Strategic Planning Office.

Your Academic Liaison Librarian

James Bisset

Senior Manager
Library Research Services

0191 334 1589

DU Library Blog

Metrics Top Tips

  1. Always use quantitative metrics together with qualitative inputs, such as expert opinion or peer review.
  2. Always use more than one quantitative metric to get the richest perspective. 
  3. If comparing entities, normalise the data to account for differences in subject area, year of publication and document type.

See our pages on Responsible Metrics for further information.