Research metrics

What are research metrics?

Research metrics are quantitative measurements designed to evaluate research outputs and their impacts.  Metrics include a variety of measures and statistical methods for assessing the quality and broader impact of scientific and scholarly research.

Understanding the use of research metrics

The former HEFCE managed a review of research metrics in research assessment and management in 2014, and published The Metric Tide in July 2015. The review sought to understand the existing and potential roles that quantitative indicators play in the assessment and management of research.

On the basis of the independent review of metrics, the former HEFCE established an independent sector-wide group called the Forum for Responsible Research Metrics. This is a group of research funders, sector bodies and infrastructure experts working in partnership to promote the responsible use of research metrics.

One key aim of the Forum for Responsible Research Metrics is to provide advice to UK HE funding bodies, via the REF team, on the use of metrics in REF2021 in the three elements of the assessment. The Forum will also advice on, and work to improve, the data infrastructure that underpins metric use and the culture of research metrics.

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We have reviewed the role of metrics in the assessment and management of research. A report of the review’s findings, ‘The Metric Tide’, was published on 9 July 2015. This affects anyone with a professional interest in research assessment and funding.

Read The Metric Tide report

About the review

The former HEFCE managed an independent review of research assessment and management during 2014 and early 2015. 

The review explored the current use of metrics for research assessment, drawing on evidence from a wide range of sources.

It considered the robustness of metrics across different academic disciplines, assessing their potential contribution to the development of research excellence and impact within higher education.

The review’s outcomes report will interest researchers and will inform the work of the UK higher education funding bodies as they prepare for Research Excellence Framework 2021. 

The review also has broader relevance beyond higher education, as it also considers the use of metrics in other aspects of government science and industrial policy.

Further information on the review

As part of the review, the former HEFCE launched a call for evidence in May 2014 to gather views and evidence relating to the use of metrics in research assessment and management. The call and the responses can be downloaded here.

Throughout 2014 and 2015 the former HEFCE delivered stakeholder workshops to consult and engage with the sector, focusing on key topics and issues from the review.

Further information on the review panel and conduct can be found here.

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