Responsible Use of Metrics Policy
Approval date: 16th October 2018
Effective from: 16th October 2018
Approved by: Senate
Durham University aims to deliver a critical mass of world-leading research across all academic departments and produce and disseminate research that has a positive impact on global, national and regional challenges and which benefits culture, society, health, the economy and the physical environment. The University recognises that the responsible and ethical use of metrics, in helping to drive forward world-leading research, has the potential to help improve the visibility and the impact of its research.
The University further recognises that the use of metrics can be complex and that utility varies greatly across disciplines, and even sub-disciplines; there are, therefore, serious limitations in relying on quantitative data or indicators thereof in a manner that is not reflective of disciplinary considerations. It further recognises that improperly used metrics can reinforce existing biases that impinge on the University’s mission to enhance diversity and equality amongst its academic staff, and it is important that they are used with due awareness of their limitations.
This policy sets out Durham University’s approach to the use of conventional publication metrics across its research activities(such as citations, usage statistics and collaborations). Its scope is necessarily high-level and it is expected that particular situations (e.g. metrics usage for the Research Excellence Framework) may require additional supporting documentation. This policy applies to the use of metrics for Durham staff and students for University purposes and in the support of their aims.
Senate has ultimate responsibility for the use of research metrics in the University. Research Management Committee will be the body responsible for effective oversight and management, including review of metrics usage in light of changing external factors. Research & Innovation Services, the Library, and the Strategic Planning Office will provide practical support for the effective and appropriate usage of research quality indicators. Faculties
and, as appropriate, departments are responsible for the selection, design and application of discipline-specific metrics, ensuring that they remain in line with the University policy and statement and taking advantage of the professional guidance and support provided by the University.
The University undertakes to utilise metrics according to the principles stated in its ‘Responsible use of metrics’ statement and in line with the practice outlined in this policy. This applies to the use of metrics by central committees and services in support of strategic goals, as well as to their usage by departments and individual academics and managers.
The University does preclude the use of metrics by individual staff for personal use. Indeed a community informed in metrics usage is an essential guard against the misuse of this medium in relation to outputs and to ensure their benefit is maximised. It encourages staff to abide by the policy when using metrics for personal use, given that the metrics will have to meet the standards set out by the University’s policy and statement on responsible metrics before they will be accepted for University purposes.
The University is responsible for:
i) ensuring that metrics are used only in compliance with the University’s statement on the responsible use of metrics.
ii) providing appropriate access to and training on the use of appropriate tools for accessing and analysing publication, collaboration and citation data used by the university and external bodies.
iii) providing best practice guidance and operational support.
iv) engaging proactively with funders, collaborators and regulators to ensure metric usage is responsible beyond the University.
v) ensuring that metrics are used, designed and implemented in line with the approaches set-out below.
vi) using metrics in a transparent manner.
Metrics should be designed in a way that accounts for, and where necessary minimises, their potential shortcomings. Metrics should be:
i) used in conjunction with qualitative review methods.
ii) multifactorial i.e. not a single measure.
iii) appropriate for purpose, discipline, and context.
iv) cognisant of potential bias e.g. h-index favours seniority.
v) aggregated at an appropriate level, normally University, Faculty or department.
vi) normalised to account for disciplinary differences and other factors.
vii) used transparently.
viii) where possible designed as standard /open reports.
ix) designed with a clear and reproducible methodology.
x) designed in a way that minimises the opportunity for and motivation to ‘play games’.
xi) developed in consultation with stakeholders in line with agreed national and international practice.
xii) developed in compliance with and reference to equality, diversity and inclusion.
Metrics should be:
i) used for limited and stated purposes.
ii) used transparently.
iii) used by informed groups.
iv) used with caution.
v) (wherever possible) made available to internal stakeholders and users.
vi) retained for only as long as required and updated at regular intervals.
vii) only used at an individual identifiable level in exceptional circumstances.
viii) shared only with appropriate ethical and legal safeguards.
Individual staff are responsible for:
i) ensuring that that their individual records are up to date, complete and accurate.
ii) correcting records or to facilitate that correction where possible.
iii) using citation analysis tools in a responsible way, having undertaken all relevant training (see 5.0).
Intentional non-compliance with this policy i.e. which is negligent or which is designed to misrepresent or to cause harm or disadvantage, may be a disciplinary issue.