The Need to Cross-Validate and Initialize Multiple Metrics Jointly Against Peer Ratings
amsciforum at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 19 09:18:31 EDT 2009
The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) has
results of a study they commissioned by Evidence
found that the ranking criteria for assessing and rewarding research
performance in the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) changed from RAE
2001 <http://www.hero.ac.uk/rae/> to RAE 2008 <http://www.rae.ac.uk/>. The
result is that citations, which correlated highly with RAE 2001, correlated
less highly with RAE 2008, so a number of universities whose citation counts
had decreased were rewarded more in 2008, and a number of universities whose
citation counts had increased were rewarded less.
(1) Citation counts are only one (though an important one) among many
potential metrics of research performance.
(2) If the RAE peer panel raters' criteria for ranking the universities
varied or were inconsistent between RAE 2001 and RAE 2008 then that is a
problem with peer ratings rather than with metrics (which, being objective,
(3) Despite the variability and inconsistency, peer ratings are the only way
to initialise the weights on metrics: Metrics first have to be jointly
validated against expert peer evaluation by measuring their correlation with
the peer rankings, discipline by discipline; then the metrics' respective
weights can be updated and fine-tuned, discipline by discipline, in
conjunction with expert judgment of the resulting rankings and continuing
(4) If only one metric (e.g., citation) is used, there is the risk that
expert ratings will simply echo it. But if a rich and diverse battery of
multiple metrics is jointly validated and initialized against the RAE 2008
expert ratings, then this will create an assessment-assistant tool whose
initial weights can be calibrated and used in an exploratory way to generate
different rankings, to be compared by the peer panels with previous rankings
as well as with new, evolving criteria of research productivity, uptake,
importance, influence, excellence and impact.
(5) The dawning era of Open Access (free web access) to peer-reviewed
research is providing a wealth of new metrics to be included, tested and
assigned initial weights in the joint battery of metrics. These include
download counts, citation and download growth and decay rates, hub and
authority scores, interdisciplinarity scores, co-citations, tag counts,
comment counts, link counts, data-usage, and many other openly accessible
and measurable properties of the growth of knowledge in our evolving
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