Research assessment: tips for researchers who want to use quantitative indicators in their CV, project application, etc.

There are many quantitative indicators, and new ones are still being developed. Examples of quantitative indicators include: the number of (scholarly) publications, number of citations, citation impact (normalized), number of downloaded (open access) papers, number of users of deposited datasets, number of mentions of a study/publication on social media and/or academic networking sites, number of policy recommendations issued, number of supervised doctorates, size of one's own research group, number of public lectures, number of patents, amount of research funding acquired.

Ghent University does not exclude a priori that researchers use quantitative indicators, e.g., in project or job applications, or evaluation and reflection documents in the context of the evaluation of professors. Quantitative information can for example be used as part of or in support of a more qualitative (narrative) dossier. The condition is always that quantitative indicators are used responsibly, in line with Ghent University’s policy on research evaluation.

More on Responsible Research Assessment and the responsible use of quantitative indicators

The following tips can help researchers choose and use quantitative indicators to support their case:

  1. Only use quantitative indicators only if the organizer of the evaluation allows it. 
  2. Do not feel obliged to use quantitative indicators when this is not requested.
  3. Use quantitative indicators that are relevant to the evaluation of your dossier.
  4. Use quantitative indicators that correctly represent your achievements.
  5. Use quantitative indicators to support and strengthen your narrative.
  6. Use quantitative indicators for their intended purpose. For example, the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is not a good measure of the quality of an individual researcher's work. Ghent University therefore does not use the JIF in recruitment, promotions or project application evaluations.
  7. Use quantitative indicators that are sufficiently transparent, reliable and robust.
  8. Use quantitative indicators that are verifiable and reproducible. Where possible, make use of (in academia) easily accessible databases, institutional repositories, etc.
  9. Use quantitative indicators with expertise, so that you can explain (in an interview e.g.) what exactly the indicators mean.
  10. Be aware of the limitations of the quantitative indicators used, such as bias towards certain disciplines.


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Last modified May 2, 2024, 8:43 a.m.