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On this page is an overview of some of the most high-profile potential and actual use of metrics on an institutional, national and international scale.


San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

The University of Manchester has signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, which lays out principles for the appropriate use of metrics in the evaluation of research.

The first principle of the Declaration, and the most important one in terms of the use of citation metrics, is that journal-based metrics, such as Impact Factors, should not be used as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles.

However, although this 'retrospective' use of Impact Factors should be avoided, such metrics can still sometimes be used 'prospectively' by researchers considering where to publish, as one of several potential indicators of journal quality.

The Citation Services Team in the University Library offers training in the use of tools which can be used to obtain citation data and, as appropriate, a 'consultancy' service which can provide reports to Faculties and Schools on the citation impact of their research.

National Research Assessment Exercises

Immediately after the completion of the national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008, conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), HEFCE began to investigate the possibilities of using bibliometric data as part of the evaluation process in the next assessment exercise, which would be known as REF (Research Excellence Framework) 2014. 

The conclusion from these investigations was that 'citation information is not sufficiently robust to be used formulaically or as a primary indicator of quality in the REF; but there is scope for such data to inform and enhance the process of expert review.' 

Citation information was therefore used to inform expert review in Main Panels A and B in REF 2014. In April 2014, a further review by HEFCE of the role of metrics in research assessment was announced, and its report, 'The Metric Tide', was published in July 2015.

Global League Tables

Several of the global league tables which provide rankings of universities worldwide include citation- and publication-based metrics as part of their calculations.

Perhaps the most high-profile of these is the Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The methodology for calculating this ranking includes three such metrics.

  • One of the two publication-based metrics is based on the number of an institution's publications which are indexed in the ISI Web of Science database. 

  • The other publication-based metric takes into account the number of papers which an institution has published in the two pre-eminent general science journals, Nature and Science. 

  • The citation-based metric is based on the number of highly-cited researchers which an institution has.  'Highly-cited researchers' in this context are defined as 'researchers who have authored a large number of papers which are amongst the top 1% most cited in their field'.

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