James Wilsdon talks about the role of metrics in researcg assessment and the opportunities & dilemmas for the social sciences & humanities.
Citations, journal impact factors, H-indices, even tweets and Facebook likes – there are no end of quantitative measures that can now be used to assess the quality and wider impacts of research. But how robust and reliable are such indicators, and what weight – if any – should we give them in the management of the UK's research system? Over the past year, the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management has looked in detail at these questions. The review has explored the use of metrics across the full range of academic disciplines, and assessed their potential contribution to processes of research assessment like the REF. It has looked at how universities themselves use metrics, at the rise of league tables and rankings, at the relationship between metrics and issues of equality and diversity, and at the potential for 'gaming' that can arise from the use of particular indicators in the funding system. The review's final report, The Metric Tide, will be published on 9 July. In advance of this, James Wilsdon will use this talk to preview its findings, with a particular focus on opportunities & dilemmas for the social sciences & humanities. The second part of his talk will look at the broader post-election prospects for social science funding & influence within government, building on the Campaign for Social Science's recent report 'The Business of People'.