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University Library

Responsible use of metrics

Durham University is developing its approach as to how and where publication metrics are used as research indicators at an institutional level, and recognises the importance of using bibliometrics responsibly.

In July 2015, The Metric Tide: Report of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management outlined five keys areas to inform the responsible use of metrics:

  • Robustness: basing metrics on the best possible data in terms of accuracy and scope;
  • Humility: recognising that quantitative evaluation should support – but not supplant – qualitative, expert assessment;
  • Transparency: keeping data collection and analytical processes open and transparent, so that those being evaluated can test and verify the results;
  • Diversity: accounting for variation by field, and using a range of indicators to reflect and support a plurality of research and researcher career paths across the system;
  • Reflexivity: recognising and anticipating the systemic and potential effects of indicators, and updating them in response.

The report made a number of recommendations to UK HEIs, including to;

"carefully select quantitative indicators that are appropriate to their institutional aims and context ... explain why they are using these as a means to achieve particular ends ... [and] where possible, alternative indicators that support equality and diversity should be identified and included."

... to provide

"Clear communication of the rationale for selecting particular indicators, and how they will be used as a management tool... [and] consider signing up to DORA, or drawing on its principles and tailoring them to their institutional contexts."

... and to

"pay due attention to the equality and diversity implications of research assessment choices"

Following discussions at University Research Committee on how to implement these recommendations, work is in progress to review how this is clearly communicated to all Durham staff and students. This will include consultation with stakeholders and take into account the needs of researchers and authors, as well as consideration of existing external developments such as the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), the Leiden Manifesto and the development and use of Snowball Metrics.

The outcomes of this work will be made available via this page once concluded.


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