How to measure the impact of research is a big issue at the moment for researchers and funders alike. As HEFCE’s The Metric Tide review of the use of metrics in research assessment and management is published, our Director of Strategic Evaluation and Impact Dr Ian Viney explains why funders like the MRC are interested in understanding how research leads to positive effects on health, wealth, culture and society — and that metrics are only a small part of this.
The report out today, The Metric Tide, is so called to capture the view that like tides, the pressure to use metrics — quantitative aspects of research outputs and impact — to simplify evaluation is powerful and growing.
However tides may of course be useful, as in the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats”, which has been coined to refer to the spill-over benefit across the whole economy if leading industry sectors secure the support they need. 
The Metric Tide seeks to alleviate the pressure to measure research impact using inappropriate and over-simplified metrics, by setting out principles for the responsible use of such information. However there is of course still the requirement to efficiently tell the story of research progress, productivity and quality. Read more