Harnessing the Metric Tide: indicators, infrastructures & priorities for UK responsible research assessment.
This review was commissioned by the joint UK higher education (HE) funding bodies as part of the Future Research Assessment Programme (FRAP). It revisits the findings of the 2015 review The Metric Tide to take a fresh look at the use of indicators in research management and assessment.
While this review feeds into the larger FRAP process, the authors have taken full advantage of their independence and sought to stimulate informed and robust discussion about the options and opportunities of future REF exercises. The report should be read in that spirit: as an input to ongoing FRAP deliberations, rather than a reflection of their likely or eventual conclusions.
The report is written in three sections. Section 1 plots the development of the responsible research assessment agenda since 2015 with a focus on the impact of The Metric Tide review and progress against its recommendations. Section 2 revisits the potential use of metrics and indicators in any future REF exercise, and proposes an increased uptake of ‘data for good’. Section 3 considers opportunities to further support the roll-out of responsible research assessment policies and practices across the UK HE sector. Appendices include an overview of progress against the recommendations of The Metric Tide and a literature review.
We make ten recommendations targeted at different actors in the UK research system, summarised as:
1: Put principles into practice.
2: Evaluate with the evaluated.
3: Redefine responsible metrics.
4: Revitalise the UK Forum.
5: Avoid all-metric approaches to REF.
6: Reform the REF over two cycles.
7: Simplify the purposes of REF.
8: Enhance environment statements.
9: Use data for good.
10: Rethink university rankings.