Assessing Academic Researchers

Assessing Academic Researchers

Author: Jonathan Faiz

How do we measure the quality of an academic researcher? Is it by number of publications or citations, or rather by their contribution to their field, as judged by other academics, as well as their contribution to departmental life and their teaching ability?

In his Editorial in Angewandte Chemie, Richard N. Zare, Stanford University, CA, USA, outlines the criteria that his own department uses for assessing academic researchers: faculty members and 10 to 15 external national and international experts suggest whether an assistant professor’s research has changed the community’s view of chemistry in a positive way.

Zare warns that too much emphasis is placed on the number of publications and the h-index as indicators of a researcher’s value. It is easy to find cases where citations of excellent works had a slow induction period because some ideas or measurements lie outside of what is popularly accepted at the time of publication. An example is Steve Weinberg’s work which laid the basis for what is called the Standard Model of particle physics.

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