When the television series Shōgun was aired, the author of the best-selling story — James Clavell — is supposed to have said, when asked if he liked it, “Who the heck wants to see his cow boiled down into a stock cube?”
One could argue that by using traditional bibliometric measures to measure research impact and researcher performance, we are boiling down the complex and magical world of research into stock cubes.
For this reason, metrics is the subject of many heated debates in academia in these years. The conflict stands between researchers on one hand, who wants fair measures, and decision makers on the other, who need simple means of establishing an overview over this sea of complexity.
So far no ‘one size fits all’ standard performance measure has been established (although the Journal Impact Factor is often treated as one). The methods and theories of various scientific disciplines, their differences in scope and aim, their publication traditions and so on and so forth has made it virtually impossible to establish metrics covering all disciplines, providing justice to research and at the same time establishing the overview so much in demand.
Research libraries are deeply involved in these discussions since they frequently find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place in that they provide services to both researchers and decision makers.
It is therefore highly relevant for LIBER to be involved in the struggles to find means of meeting both sets of demands. Rather than developing and presenting new metrics for the measurement of scholarly impact, LIBER’s Innovative Metrics Working Group aims at innovating the ways metrics are applied to researchers and research products by addressing six topics (stated below). In this way, LIBER supports activities that turn research assessments into an exercise for more informed, suitable and responsible use of metrics.
Setting the Scene & Innovating for Libraries, Universities & Researchers
The first priority of the Working Group was to describe the landscape. For that please see Scholarly Metrics Recommendations For Research Libraries: Deciphering the Trees in the Forest.
Since the 2018 publication of this report, the Working Group has been reorganized and is now focusing on a series of new topics suggested by the LIBER network during the LIBER 2018 Annual Conference. The topics are:
- Qualitative measures
- Innovation, creation and documentation of new metric standards
- Competence building in the libraries and among researchers
- Alternative metrics for management reporting
- Ethics of alternative measures
- Guidelines for how to explain to management why measures fluctuate
What Has Happened & What is Coming Up?
Over the academic year 2018/19, the Working Group has held several online meetings to organise future work. Group members have also presented at international conferences including ILIDE2019 and OCLC/EMEARC2019 and organized a workshop “Where to From Now On” at LIBER 2019.
Contact has also been established with the INORMS research evaluation WG. The two chairs – Dr. Elizabeth Gadd and Dr. Charlotte Wien – will meet in Denmark in august to plan future cooperation.
Since new people bring new perspectives, partnerships and conversations, we very much encourage you to get in touch if you have thoughts about innovative metrics or would like to contribute to our ongoing work.