Based on a paper presented at the UKSG seminar ‘Measure for Measure, or Much Ado About Nothing? Measuring the quality and value of online journals’, London, Thursday 14 June 2007
The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), based on peer review, has enabled the UK to improve its comparative international research performance. But the RAE is changing after 2008 to a system based on metrics, within which a bibliometric quality indicator will be a critical component. Bibliometrics, using publication and citation counts, have many advantages and have been extensively developed over the last 20 years. But they also have serious challenges, some real and some apparent, and researchers will need expert advice to develop and work with an effective and supportive metrics system.This paper discusses the background to the change in metrics, identifies a range of possible problems that need to be tackled, and confirms the critical role of those with prior expertise in guiding the establishment and then the development of a sensible system.