Can research quality be measured quantitatively? On quality of scholarship, numerical research indicators and academic publishing - experiences from Norway

  • Michael Richard Handley Jones


In this article I reflect on ways in which the neoliberal university and its administrative counterpart, new public management (NPM), affect academic publishing activity. One characteristic feature of NPM is the urge to use simple numerical indicators of research output as a tool to allocate funding and, in practice if not in theory, as a means of assessing research quality. This ranges from the use of journal impact factors (IF) and ranking of journals to publication points to determine what types of work in publishing is counted as meritorious for funding allocation. I argue that it is a fallacy to attempt to assess quality of scholarship through quantitative measures of publication output. I base my arguments on my experiences of editing a Norwegian geographical journal over a period of 16 years, along with my experiences as a scholar working for many years within the Norwegian university system.

Dec 15, 2017