8 perspectives on measuring research

In a recent essay Douglas Comer lists 8 different ways to measure research. What is measured depends on the perspective and role of the evaluator. Here are the 8 ways and the point of view using this perspective on research:

Journal Paper Approach (preferred by journal publishers)
Measure: N, the total number of papers published.

Rate Of Publication Approach (preferred by young researchers)
Measure: N/T, the ratio of total papers published to the time in which they were published.

Weighted Publication Approach (preferred by accreditation agencies)
Measure: W, the sum of the weights assigned to published papers.

Millions Of Monkeys Approach (preferred by government granting agencies)
Measure: G, the total amount of taxpayer money distributed for research.

Direct Funding Approach (preferred by department heads)
Measure: D, the total dollars of grant funds acquired by a researcher.

Indirect Funding Approach (preferred by university administrators)
Measure: O, the total overhead dollars generated.

Bottom Line Approach (preferred by industrial research labs)
Measure: P, the profit generated by patents or products that result from the research.

Assessment Of Impact Approach (preferred by the handful of researchers who actually achieve something)
Measure: I/R, Ratio of the impact of the work to the amount of resources used to generate it.

All perspectives have pro’s and con’s, and I advice to read the essay for these details. The important thing is to keep in mind for research managers is to be aware of the the position of the person who measures research. There is nothing wrong in any perspective, as long it is clear that every perspective only looks at a partial reality aspect of research.


About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: www.rsm.nl Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: http://www.mendeley.com/collections/694621/RMIMR-Repository/ The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: http://www.mendeley.com/collections/rss/694621/ Here is my other weblog on impact of research: http://www.scoop.it/t/dualimpact

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