Quantitative measures of academic performance are playing an ever more important role in every day’s academic life. Numerical indicators are key ingredients of the “reputation race” exemplified by rankings of institutions, journals and researchers. In an era of budget cuts, institutions and individuals must also resort to quantitative indicators in order to prove “accountable” and justify their cost to the public. This may involve an excessive increase of bureaucratic burdens to the point of harming the overall efficiency of teaching and research. Moreover, the question arises whether scientific productivity of scholars can be quantitatively and accurately measured by means of individual bibliometry. In some countries, there is a clear trend towards the normative adoption of bibliometric indicators at all levels, ranging from national research assessments to decisions regarding individuals, such as hiring and promotion. Is this feasible? What are the caveats and ethical risks? What has the scientometric literature to say and what are the international experiences? After the fall of ebony towers are we doomed to a bureaucratic and bibliometric deluge?
Giuseppe De Nicolao, Harassing with Numbers: the Uses and Abuses of Bureaucracy and Bibliometry, 13th European Control Conference, Lunch Session – Friday, June 27, 2014.