A modest metrics proposal

May 29, 2008

Adrian Buckley's suggestion for a new research assessment metric based on citations in Times Higher Education is indeed innovative (Letters, 22 May). However, the following more modest proposal has the advantage of being consonant with government objectives for the sector and, in addition, aligns funding methodology for research with that for teaching.

It is self-evidently fairer to prioritise first-time authors over those who have already received public funding for their publications. It is also the case that those who have already published a great deal are, a fortiori, more intelligent than those who have only just started so to do.

It follows that, in its research assessment metrics, the Higher Education Funding Council for England should fund on the basis only of citations by authors who are more intelligent than the author being cited. A moment's reflection will reveal that such a methodology will, without further interventions, have the effect of redirecting resource away from "lifelong authors" toward the young research talent that we need to nurture.

Moreover, the proposed withdrawal of funding for Equal or Lower Citations (ELCs) will allow a fair and transparent sum over Citation Relative Academic Performance.

This will provide an entirely appropriate indicator of the resulting total research excellence of the sector in a way that more completely reflects current Hefce and government thinking.

Would readers from the Higher Education Academy please note that I write in a wholly personal capacity.

Ian Ground, Heaton, Newcastle.

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