Measuring Impact: EUR policy
Erasmus University aspires to be a research-driven university. Research is valued and nurtured and the aim is to strengthen the impact of the researchers’ work, both in terms of academic impact and in terms of societal impact.
But measuring and monitoring the impact of research is not an easy task. There are multiple sources of evidence, multiple indexes, multiple criteria to measure research performance. This is why the Erasmus University has started a new initiative: the Erasmus Impact project, aiming to help researchers and their leaders to create a collective memory of the impact of their research. The plan is to built a dedicated 'impact repository' with data and information on impact, building on multiple sources of evidence, acknowledging the publication traditions in the different fields and faculties of research at Erasmus University.
Performance indicators in research differ from one academic discipline to another. Erasmus MC, the Institute of Health Policy and Management [iBMG], and the department of Economics and Management at EUR use citation analysis as a performance indicator in evaluating the quality of their research. However, at its best, citation measurement is partially useful in the fields of law, public administration, history, cultural studies, media and communication studies and philosophy. In such fields, the design of the measurement must be supplemented so as to do justice to its culture of scholarship.
Four impact pilots
The EUR Executive Board has requested the further development of methods of measurement in the fields of Law, History, Public administration and Sociology, using impact pilots. This approach revolves around the various disciplines, acknowledging publication traditions and norms for measuring impact within these fields. The first two pilots (Law and History) will be carried out by Leiden's Centre for Science and Technology Studies [CWTS]. The last two (Public administration and Sociology) will be carried out by an impact monitor group set up by the EUR, consisting of people from the General Management Directorate, ERIM, the University Library and the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The pilots will be finished by the end of January 2011. If successful, the impact monitor will be rolled out to other disciplines. The plan is to develop an EUR Impact Portal, comparable to Wageningen UR's (Wageningen University & Research centre), with instruments for measuring impact within internal and external databases. For each discipline, the information on impact will be made available on websites where it can be consulted by the researchers and institutions involved (not publicly, but using an ERNA login).
ERIM created a proof of concept, which has proven to have relevant added value for researchers. It is therefore resolved to make a similar impact facility available to all as soon as possible.
A project team is supervising the whole process. The team includes (senior) research policy staff from each faculty.
Click here for a selection of publications about impact measuring and research assessment.
Click here for more information about EUR research rankings in 2011.
When using metrics for impact measurement, we would like to suggest the following rule of thumb: if an academic shows good citation metrics, it is very likely that she or he has made a significant impact on the field. However, the reverse is not necessarily true. If an academic shows weak citation metrics, this may be caused by a lack of impact on the field, but also by one or more of the following: