Quantitative research assessment: using metrics against gamed metrics | Internal and Emergency Medicine
peter.suber's bookmarks 2023-12-05
Abstract: Quantitative bibliometric indicators are widely used and widely misused for research assessments. Some metrics have acquired major importance in shaping and rewarding the careers of millions of scientists. Given their perceived prestige, they may be widely gamed in the current “publish or perish” or “get cited or perish” environment. This review examines several gaming practices, including authorship-based, citation-based, editorial-based, and journal-based gaming as well as gaming with outright fabrication. Different patterns are discussed, including massive authorship of papers without meriting credit (gift authorship), team work with over-attribution of authorship to too many people (salami slicing of credit), massive self-citations, citation farms, H-index gaming, journalistic (editorial) nepotism, journal impact factor gaming, paper mills and spurious content papers, and spurious massive publications for studies with demanding designs. For all of those gaming practices, quantitative metrics and analyses may be able to help in their detection and in placing them into perspective. A portfolio of quantitative metrics may also include indicators of best research practices (e.g., data sharing, code sharing, protocol registration, and replications) and poor research practices (e.g., signs of image manipulation). Rigorous, reproducible, transparent quantitative metrics that also inform about gaming may strengthen the legacy and practices of quantitative appraisals of scientific work.