Metrics of research impact for tenure and promotion

Herng Yi Cheng
March 31, 2018

Currently in the sciences and some fields of the humanities, the prestige of the journals that a researcher publishes in is often an important factor considered by tenure and promotion committees. These committees use journal prestige as an indicator of research impact, but not only is this indication inaccurate [1], this also discourages researchers from publishing in open access journals.

We should develop more accurate metrics of research impact which depend less on journal prestige, for use in these committees. For example, the San Fransisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) recommends that "[f]or the purposes of research assessment, consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets and software) in addition to research publications, and consider a broad range of impact measures including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice." [2]

This would help tenure and promotion favor research with truly better impact, and incentivise publishing in open access journals, which have a well-documented citation advantage [3].

[1] The PLoS Medicine Editors (2006) The Impact Factor Game. PLoS Med 3(6): e291.
[2] The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment.
[3] SPARC Europe (2015) The Open Access Citation Advantage Service (OACA).

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