How to evaluate individual researchers meaningfully and with a focus on excellence? A proposal for a set of indicators based on percentiles of citations

See on Scoop.itDual impact of research; towards the impactelligent university


Although bibliometrics has been a separate research field for many years, there is still no uniformity in the way bibliometric analyses are applied to individual researchers. Therefore, this study aims to set up proposals how to evaluate individual researchers working in the natural and life sciences. 2005 saw the introduction of the h index, which gives information about a researcher’s productivity and the impact of his or her publications in a single number (h is the number of publications with at least h citations); however, it is not possible to cover the multidimensional complexity of research performance and to undertake inter-personal comparisons with this number. This study therefore includes recommendations for a set of indicators to be used for evaluating researchers. Our proposals relate to the selection of data on which an evaluation is based, the analysis of the data and the presentation of the results.


The authors give a “handle with care” advice: ” Scientists, who should be used to handling bibliometric data as end users, should be able to understand the limitations of the data and the risks that can result and it must be possible for them to call them to account. However this is often not the case: when money and reputation are at stake, scientists are also only human and forget the rules of good scientific practice. Bibliometric data is likely to be misinterpreted if this can benefit their positive image or completely ignored if it does not provide confirmation of scientists’ perception of themselves. It might also be used as ammunition against competitors if it seems appropriate for this purpose. The danger of partiality presents anyone creating bibliometric data (the database producers) and undertaking bibliometric studies (the bibliometricians) with a special responsibility. The end users of the data are called upon to take the guidelines of both groups seriously to take account of the outcomes and relationships determined by bibliometric research over decades.”



How to evaluate individual researchers working in the natural and life sciences meaningfully? A proposal of methods based on percentiles of citationsLutz Bornmann, Werner MarxarXiv:1302.3697, 4 Oct 2013
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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: Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: Here is my other weblog on impact of research:

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