Snowball Metrics

Global standards for institutional benchmarking

Numerous metrics are available, compounded by many similar versions of the same metric. It is often difficult to know which metric will give the most useful insights, whether a metric is being calculated appropriately, or whether other institutions are looking at things in the same way. By agreeing to a manageable set of metrics as best practice, and methodologies to create those metrics that can be applied to research management information, organizations will benefit from consistency and the opportunity to base decisions on their position relative to peer institutions.

In line with recommendations made by the sector, several distinguished institutions agreed to collaborate with a supplier, Elsevier, to define and agree their needs around metrics for decision making. The resulting metrics, Snowball Metrics, help establish a reliable foundation for institutional strategic decision making to complement existing approaches. Defined and agreed by higher education institutions, and subsequently tested for feasibility of calculation for entire universities across multiple data sources, Snowball Metrics are a set of freely available methodologies that can be generated independently of data source. It is aspired that Snowball Metrics become global standards which cover the entire spectrum of research activities and enable truly comparable institutional benchmarking.

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A small but influential group of institutions in the UK has collaborated to share their knowledge and insights, and to define the initial set of Snowball Metrics. These universities collectively account for nearly 40% of each of the following: competitive funding awarded by Research Councils, UK-authored articles, and UK citations.

The project partners are:

  • University of Oxford
  • University College London
  • University of Cambridge
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Leeds
  • Queen's University Belfast
  • University of St Andrews
  • Elsevier

All nine project partners have contributed their expertise and staff time to the initiative for free.

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