Ruth Schmidt and colleagues explain how systems thinking can advance responsible research assessment. In an infographic format, they identify external forces that reinforce the use of the Journal Impact  (JIF) as a surrogate measure for research quality in academic career advancement, despite its well documented deficiencies as a tool for research assessment. By demonstrating schematically how the reliance on the JIF holds the current academic rewards and recognition system in place, readers can better understand the motivations of academic stakeholders, including funding organizations, publishers, and academic institutions. This type of exercise also reveals tensions that can be used to disrupt the system and implement research assessment reform.

The second part of the infographic highlights three values—contributions to the field, collaboration, and equity—that allow the academic community to embrace a systems perspective of research assessment in a practical way and suggests strategic interventions to create momentum for lasting change.

Lee E, Wong SZA, and Schmidt R. (2021). Why does research assessment need systems thinking?