Responsible Metrics at Liverpool

The implementation of an institutional policy on the responsible use of metrics is underway.

The University of Liverpool is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) which outlines several recommendations on how to improve research assessment.

As an institution, we have committed to:

  • being explicit about the criteria used to evaluate academic activity;
  • recognising the value of all relevant research outputs (for example publications, datasets, software and arts practice outputs), as well as other types of contributions, such as for example training early-career researchers, influencing policy and practice, and research impacts;
  • avoiding the use of journal-based metrics as individual or surrogate measures of the quality of research in decision-making for funding, appointing and promoting staff, and instead judging outputs based on their intrinsic merit.

Institutional Policy on the Responsible Use of Metrics

Development of an institutional policy on the responsible use of metrics and an associated implementation plan was undertaken in consultation with our research community over Spring to Autumn 2020.  The Policy was approved by the University governance structure and formally approved by Senate in March 2021.

You can access the Policy for the Responsible Use of Metrics in Research Assessment via the University Policy Centre.

The Policy sets out the University’s approach to the use of metrics in research assessment, and is high-level, spanning the whole institution.  This policy complements the Code of Practice for the Annual Assessment of Individual Research Performance.

Equality Impact Assessment

An Equality Impact Assessment was carried out in February 2021 following consultation and in advance of the policy being formally approved.  You can view the EIA screening for RM policy here.

The Policy directs staff involved in recruitment and assessment activities only to use metrics in conjunction with peer review and never in isolation, and to avoid the use of metrics related to venue of publication or individual metrics that are influenced by length of career. In this way the policy should support the objective of making improvements in the recruitment of some underrepresented groups by helping to avoid indirect discrimination of researchers: who are more likely to have had career breaks (e.g. female researchers, disabled researchers); whose careers may have largely been outside academia; near the start of their academic career; whose disciplines do not rely heavily on journal publication; or who are from countries with traditionally low rates of publishing in certain journals.

Implementation Plan

To effectively embed the policy in the University’s working practices, an Implementation plan is in preparation. We recognise that the research landscape differs between disciplines and that practical guidelines might be tailored to suit each Faculty/School/Department. The plan will outline the actions needed to facilitate change in the use of metrics by staff at the University of Liverpool. These will include procedural changes where required and new or improved resources to aid responsible research assessment. The most important actions, however, will consist of training for all relevant staff to guide them through the new approaches, aid understanding and facilitate successful implementation.

The actions will span four main categories to support unified adoption of the principles:

  1. Leadership
  2. Recruitment
  3. Internal staff assessment (incl. Personal Development Reviews and promotion)
  4. Training

The plan will be completed by July 2021, published internally, and widely communicated. The implementation will start in August 2021 and will occur in two phases:

  • The first phase will focus on raising staff awareness and understanding of the Policy. All relevant staff will receive training on how to implement the Policy principles in hiring, career progression, promotion and funding decision.

(this will take up to 6 months)

  • Once the new processes are established internally, all remaining external-facing processes will be introduced (e.g. related to job advertisements). This is to avoid a conflict between the expectations of external candidates and University staff practices.

(latest in April 2022)

The Implementation plan will also include processes put in place for monitoring and reporting on progress in fulfilling the principles.

Project Governance

The project is sponsored by the Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for the Research Environment and Postgraduate Research, and led by staff in the Open Research Team.

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