Research metrics: the good, the bad and the ugly of bibliometrics and University rankings

Speaker:  Michel Beaudouin-Lafon – Orsay Cedex, France
Topic(s):  Society and the Computing Profession


Over the past decade, research metrics have become an important part of the discourse on research, from hiring committees to government policy. Researchers display their h-index on their web pages, journals brag about their impact factor, Universities keep a close eye on their international rankings. As scientists, we tend to believe that everything is measurable; as citizens, we are led to believe that complex issues can be reduced to simple numbers. In this talk I take a critical view of the main indicators used in research metrics: h-index, impact factor and University ranking. I show that at best they capture a partial picture of the quality of research, at worst they distort reality and encourage poor practices. As an example, impact factors have been a driving force behind the concentration of commercial publishers, which has driven subscription costs higher and higher, which in turn has fueled the Open Access movement. However, Open Access itself is becoming a victim of commercial publishers (the so-called predatory publishers), who have invented Gold Open Access and promise authors higher number of citations if they pay author fees [1]. The purpose of this talk however is not to demand the demise of research metrics, but to better understand them and to use them for what they are worth.

About this Lecture

Number of Slides:  41
Duration:  45 - 60 minutes
Languages Available:  English, French
Last Updated: 

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