Confronting the metric tide: performance indicators and the social construction of science

Speaker: Prof Paul Wouters # Leiden University

26th Oct 2015

15:30 - 17:00

Staff Room, 6th floor, Crystal Macmillan Building, George Square, University of Edinburgh

In this presentation, I will discuss The Metric Tide: Report of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management which was published last July by HEFCE (,104463,en.html), as well as The Leiden Manifesto for Research Management ( which was published in Nature in April this year. Taken together these reports give a sound overview of the current state of the art with respect to the role and critique of performance indicators and research assessment. At our Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University (, we combine scientometric approaches with ethnographic and sociological research to understand how organizational practices intersect with knowledge creation. I will discuss the value of constructivist and materialist semiotic theories to both analyze, construct and critique research metrics in academia. I will conclude with an attempt to answer the question whether our motto "meaningful metrics" is a realistic ambition.

Speaker bio: