In 2014 the British government commissioned an independent expert group (supported by the former Higher Education Funding Council for England, now Research England) to critically examine the prospects for using metrics in the evaluation of research, notably in the Research Excellence Framework (REF), a nationwide exercise run every 6 years to assess the quality of research being done in UK universities. The resulting report, The Metric Tide, which was published in July 2015, provides an extensive review of the literature on peer review, the use of metrics and altmetrics, and a statistical analysis of the predictive power of various numerical indicators (including the JIF). The expert group concluded that, while some metrics may sometimes be a useful adjunct to peer review, they should always be used carefully and with due consideration of context. The report recommends institutions of higher education consider signing DORA or applying DORA principles for the responsible use of metrics.
The expert group recommended that a UK Forum for Responsible Research Metrics was established to provide the UK funding bodies advice on the use of metrics in the REF, to provide advocacy and leadership in the UK, and to establish links internationally. More information, including the Forum’s advice on REF 2021 and a UK progress report can be found here.