Measuring Scholarly Impact
“Everything has to be measurable!” seems to be the new academic doctrine. In the current issue of BizEd Magazine, Sharon Shinn delivers a detailed description of the problems associated with measuring scholarly impact. She concludes: “Tenure-track faculty continue to absorb responsibilities that take time away from conducting research, but the number of A-journal publications is still the primary metric that is considered in faculty evaluations. And that’s a problem still looking for an answer.” If A-journal publications are the primary metric, this could, for example, also prevent us from writing a good book (writing it can take several years!), even though it might be read all over the world. A key reason why people argue for exactly the kinds of rankings Shinn critiques is that they avoid the need for argument between competing factions with different views. Metrics are really useful in support of decisions. But the problems start when they are made.