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Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 2009 Jan-Feb;57(1):19-32. doi: 10.1007/s00005-009-0003-3. Epub 2009 Feb 14.

The use of bibliometrics to measure research quality in UK higher education institutions.

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  • 1Evidence Ltd, 103 Clarendon Road, Leeds LS29DF, UK.


Research assessment in the UK has evolved over a quarter of a century from a loosely structured, peer-review based process to one with a well understood data portfolio and assessment methodology. After 2008, the assessment process will shift again, to the use of indicators based largely on publication and citation data. These indicators will in part follow the format introduced in 2008, with a profiling of assessment outcomes at national and international levels. However, the shift from peer assessment to a quantitative methodology raises critical issues about which metrics are appropriate and informative and how such metrics should be managed to produce weighting factors for funding formulae. The link between publication metrics and other perceptions of research quality needs to be thoroughly tested and reviewed, and may be variable between disciplines. Many of the indicators that drop out of publication data are poorly linked to quality and should not be used at all. There are also issues about which publications are the correct base for assessment, which staff should be included in a review, how subjects should be structured and how the citation data should be normalised to account for discipline-dependent variables. Finally, it is vital to consider the effect that any assessment process will have on the behaviour of those to be assessed.

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