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Research metrics

Information and resources to demonstrate impact using research metrics

Principles of responsible metric use

The Metric Tide, a 2015 independent review into the role of metrics in research assessment, proposed five basic principles for the responsible use of metrics:

  1. Robustness - Basing metrics on the best possible data in terms of accuracy and scope;
  2. Humility - Recognizing that quantitative evaluation should support – but not supplant – qualitative, expert assessment;
  3. Transparency - Keeping data collection and analytical processes open and transparent, so that those being evaluated can test and verify the results;
  4. 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;
  5. Reflexivity - Recognizing and anticipating the systemic and potential effects of indicators, and updating them in response.

Responsible metrics (2:45 mins) by Office of Scholarly Communication, Cambridge (YouTube)

Using metrics to evaluate research

Metrics provide a valuable method to quantify the attention that research publications have received. Quantitative measures are only one method of measuring research impact. A combination of quantitative and qualitative data provides a more comprehensive picture of research activities.

A responsible approach to the use of metrics would be to consider:

  • Appropriate - Metrics should accurately reflect what you are trying to measure.
  • Robust - Use accurate metrics that support discipline-normalised or field-weighted metrics, revising regularly to ensure validity.
  • Context - A narrative will provide context of impact and engagement, strengthening metrics.
  • Transparent - Provide data collection and analysis methods to enable verification and reproducibility.  

graphic outlining four principles of responsible metrics

"Responsible use of metrics" by E Wood, Research Services, Waipapa Taumata Rau | The University of Auckland is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Resources

The following three key resources outline some recommended principles and practices for the responsible use of metrics.

Book cover attribution

Wilsdon, J. (2016). The metric tide: independent review of the role of metrics in research assessment and management. Sage Publications. Cover image © JL-Pfeifer / Shutterstock.com.

Grant applications

Consult the funder positions in relation to which metrics are appropriate for the specific purpose, and how to use those metrics to demonstrate research impact and engagement. Funding rules may change from year to year.