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Is This Still Working? Incentives to Publish, Metrics, and New Reward Systems

Virtual Conference

The primary selling point of metrics for the academic researcher was the promise that the proof provided by such metrics of the value of one’s work would be the increased and long-term funding needed to do such work. Prestige, tenure, influence, even celebrity -- these have been stepping stones to securing significant (and much-needed) grants to educational institutions of all sizes and types. But have these incentives been subverted over time or in specific ways? Is the drive to publish-or-perish the best mechanism for encouraging substantive study? The integrity of the publishing process and perhaps the integrity of the funding model for higher education itself is at stake. This session will look at some of the troubling questions surrounding the incentives offered to the working scholar, researcher, and scientist.

Presenters in this virtual conference will consider the following questions:

·      How might institutions and research facilities best weld available indicators of use or influence into a meaningful metric?

·      If individual scholarship is best gauged by the value assigned to it by the larger community, then what collection of metrics should be gathered for purposes of determining appropriate rewards in the context of academia?

·      How might institutions better address this challenge and reward faculty appropriately?

This Virtual Conference Includes a Training Thursday Session, Presenting Metrics for Better Understanding and Use, originally scheduled for February 28, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. This follow-up session has had to be rescheduled to a later date; registrants will receive sign-on credentials when those details have been finalized.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Holly Falk-Krzesinski, Vice President, Research Intelligence, Elsevier
  • Mike Taylor, Head of Metrics Development, Digital Science
  • Christine Casey, Editor, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control
  • Dave Kochalko, Founder, Artifacts
  • Jonathan Adams, Director, ISI, Clarivate Analytics
  • Nicky Agate, Assistant Director of Scholarly Communication and Digital Projects, Columbia University

Event Sessions

12:00 p.m. – 12:10 p.m. Welcome and Introduction


12:10 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. How did we get here? Is there a clear path forward?


The skills to understanding how well we’re performing, to reflect on the implications and to act on the insights are essential to the human state. Our ability to abstract these thoughts, and express them – whether in language or numbers – has given us the ability to communicate all of these processes through time and space; to compare, to evaluate and judge performance. Research evaluation is one small part of the human condition, and one in which that expression of performance is increasingly communicated through the abstraction of numbers. But in the middle of all of these data, we mustn’t lose sight of the essential humanity of our endeavor, an essence that – perhaps – can’t be abstracted. While there is a path that is emerging, there are challenges to be faced in the future, balances to be found between abstracted data and human need

12:45 pm – 1:15 pm. Why we should stop worrying about high impact journal indicators and start loving high impact scientists


There is far too much emphasis on researchers to publish in “high impact” journals.  The journal brand has become an unsuitable proxy for relevance, influence and impact.  Research suggests this approach is too simplistic and has been counter-productive.  It is time to redefine what it means to be a “high impact scientist or scholar” in one’s field, institution, career, and member of society. We will achieve a more meaningful understanding of the scholar’s contributions by obtaining a more holistic view of the researcher’s creative works and work products, their behaviors, influence on the performance of colleagues, and advancement of their discipline.  In brief, we must shift our focus of attention and the indicators we rely on for assessing scientists and their scholarship away from journals and squarely onto the individuals.  With contemporary discovery tools, we no longer need depend on the filter of journal brand to identify important science.  The crisis of research integrity, reproducibility, lack of access to data/algorithms/methods and inability of editorial and peer review processes to address these issues reinforce the need to “think different” about indicators and how they are used to influence behavior.  With a more dynamic set of indicators focused on contributions, behaviors, influence, and impact, our research ecosystem will be better positioned to direct and invent behaviors that advance discovery and its attendant socio-economic benefits.  We have technologies that are cost-effective to accomplish such a transition and are eager to collaborate among stakeholders and experts in the NISO community to realize this change.

1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Profiles, not Metrics; Why it is important to drill into the data that feed into any 'single point' metric


Jonathan Adams

Director of the Institute for Scientific Information
Clarivate Analytics

In a recent report, the ISI team drew attention to the information that is lost when data about researchers and their institutions are squeezed into a simplified metric or league table. In this NISO session, I will draw on that report and look at four familiar types of analysis that can obscure real research when misused and four alternative visualisations that unpack richer information that lies beneath each headline indicator. These four examples cover profiling of individuals, journals, research groups and institutions. The aim of enhanced, profiled information is to get away from the idea of metrics as a substitute for informed discussion and move instead towards tools that support better, more responsible research management.

1:45 p.m. -2:00 p.m. Comfort Break

2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Administrator (Institutional Use of the Data): Data-informed Strategic Planning for the Research Enterprise


As competition for extramural research funding continues to increase and resources become more difficult to acquire and even maintain, universities and other research institutions are relying more heavily on data to help inform their decision-making.  In this session, I will address considerations for research leaders and institutional administrators using research information systems, data, metrics and analytics to support the strategic planning for their institutions’ research enterprise. 

2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Measuring Science Impact Beyond Citations (Case Studies)


Traditional journal metrics help us understand how widely the article content is disseminated. But then what? Three case studies will illustrate how CDC’s Science Impact Framework can describe the importance of your work beyond citation data. The Framework utilizes a combination of quantitative and qualitative indicators to measure outcomes, through five levels of influence: disseminating science, creating awareness, catalyzing action, effecting change, and shaping the future. The complex dynamics between the levels of influence and the intricate environment in which influence materializes create a path of impact which does not necessarily follow a linear progression.

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Impact on the Scholar & Researcher: Interview with Nicky Agate


Nicky Agate

Assistant Director of Scholarly Communication and Digital Projects
Columbia University

How are researchers adapting to this new world of metrics? What trepidations exist? What concerns might faculty be sharing with you? And how might the information professional allay those concerns regarding the use of analytics and metrics?This interactive session with Dr. Nicky Agate of Columbia University will explore the challenges of developing evaluative metrics for the digital humanities while still satisfying the needs of both the scholar as well as the institution.  

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Roundtable Discussion


Additional Information

  • Registrants will receive detailed instructions about accessing the archived recording within one business day. Due to the widespread use of spam blockers, filters, out of office messages, etc., we ask that you contact the NISO office at if you do not receive these instructions in a timely fashion. This recording access is only to be used by the registrant's organization.

  • Speaker presentation slides are posted to this event webpage following the live broadcast.

For Online Events

  • You will need a computer in order to view the broadcast; audio should feed through your device’s speaker or attached headset.

  • If you have questions or concerns regarding this registration, please contact NISO headquarters via email to We appreciate your interest and hope that you will gain valuable insight from our speakers.