The Next Era of Research Productivity Evaluation: Forming a Cohesive Metric
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There is a clear need for performance measures related to research productivity in academic institutions and government funding and policymaking bodies worldwide today. While the general consensus on the need for performance measures is strong, however, there is a strong debate about what types of content and what kind of specific metrics should be included in such measures. What would a reasonable performance measure look like, and how would it be applied? To individual faculty members, to groups of scientists working together, or to entire departments or institutions? Many advocates of new metrics state that the metrics making up any productivity measure need to be more quantitative and objective. Some in this camp would argue that the traditional metrics, including reputation amongst peers, quality of publications, enthusiasm and effectiveness in mentoring younger scientists, ability to write and explain his or her research area clearly, and quality of collaborators, are too qualitative and subjective. Others would argue to the contrary that these supposedly subjective metrics capture critical qualities about a researcher's overall effectiveness, and that excessive reliance on quantitative metrics, such as bibliographic analysis and use of grants funding data, has the potential to be highly reductionist and unfair in its implementation. We propose that any single performance metric is inadequate to capture the true dynamics of a researcher's productivity, but that a combinatorial approach between qualitative and quantitative metrics, with careful selection of each, can lead to a reasonable and standards-based approach to evaluating research productivity. We would like to speak on how such a metric could be created, what specific elements could be used, and how its efficacy could be measured during its initial implementation. This topic is certain to encourage passionate debate and multiple perspectives, and as such we feel it is a good starting point to engage the group assembled.