Archive by category | Quality measures

Measuring the scientific integrity of nations

How to evaluate a nation’s scientific integrity is the question tackled in one of the Editorials in the current issue of Nature (457, 512; 29 January 2009, free to access online). From the Editorial: “Like many emerging countries, Saudi Arabia measures itself by indices, and has developed its own index for ‘responsible competitiveness’, based on a number of metrics. But fostering strong science-based innovation requires its own metrics of inputs and achievement. So here, for any country concerned about the reputation and integrity of its research base, are some metrics that might be developed into an index for responsible scientific competitiveness.”  … Read more

Authors on authorship, collaboration and output measures

Publishing a paper in a journal has traditionally marked the end of a research project, but increasing numbers of academics are becoming interested in the publication process itself, according to the Editorial in the November issue of Nature Nanotechnology (3, 633; 2008). Many of these ‘papers about papers’ are concerned with citations and impact factors — researchers looking to get more citations for their papers are advised to write longer papers, work in teams or write the first paper on a topic (references in the Editorial). However, other authors have started to look behind the scenes at issues such as the changing nature of collaboration. The Editorial goes on to discuss some of these issues, including the h-index, a relatively recent yet controversial method of assessing a scientist’s output.  Read more

Nature Neuroscience on web traffic and citations

The June editorial in Nature Neuroscience (11, 619; 2008) discusses the relationship between web traffic and citations. The journal’s preliminary analysis indicates that the number of downloads a paper receives immediately following its appearance online correlates very well with its citation frequency years after publication. Noah Gray, one of the Nature Neuroscience editors, has written a post at Action Potential, the journal’s blog, to provide more of the details behind the data and analysis, and to initiate discussion. He writes (edited for length):  … Read more

EMBO Reports on research ranking metrics

In his Editorial ‘Measuring success’ in the April issue of EMBO Reports (9, 301; 2008), Frank Gannon looks at the pluses and minuses of metrics used to measure the success of scientists, their institutions and whole nations. He writes: “Notwithstanding the imperfection of the metrics, the resulting league tables are having real effects: university presidents world-wide await with trepidation the outcome of the latest scores. They know that it is easier to attract staff to a university that is moving up the ranking tables and this, inevitably, is leading to policy changes. Research areas that contribute little to the overall ranking might be closed and the appointments of new faculty members will reflect, to some extent, their potential to contribute to the university’s metric success.  Read more