(5 September 2017) In recent years there has been an increasing interest in how evaluation systems and resource allocation models affect research. A central question is how an increased focus on performance that is quantifiable affects researchers’ practices and priorities. A number of documented and possible effects have been identified on a more general level (de Rijcke et al., 2016), but empirical studies of how bibliometric is used in evaluating individuals are few. Assessment at the individual level is difficult to study empirically. As a result, previous discussions were based primarily on individual examples and anecdotes. At the same time, this use of indicators is particularly important for individual careers as employment and research funding are at stake.
In their paper, Indicators as judgment devices (Hammarfelt and Rushforth, 2017) the authors draw on 188 referee reports in which independent reviewers rank candidates for lectureships and professorships in biomedicine and economics. This material allows the authors to study how indicators and journal rankings are used to make judgments on – and differentiate between – candidates.