Recent years have seen an increase in the use of metrics for research assessment. Whether using citation data to support REF scores, calculating an h-index to compare researchers or research groups, or choosing a journal according to its impact factor, researchers, their managers and their funders have become increasingly reliant on quantitative evaluation.
On the face of it, an h-index is an attractive proposition: just one number to sum up both the quantity and the quality of a researcher’s output. Likewise, a journal’s impact factor distils the reputation of the journal into a single metric. Unfortunately, for evaluating the quality of research, many would say that these are reductionist at best and, at worst, fundamentally flawed.