It is becoming increasingly important to keep track of performance, do scientists have a good figure of merit to measure their performance?

  • If anyone is down voting this question is constructive knowing, why? Dec 15, 2022 at 11:27
  • 2
    One reason may be poor English which makes it difficult to understand your question. Dec 15, 2022 at 11:32
  • I see your point. I tried to improve my question . Dec 15, 2022 at 11:37
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    For a downvote, the criteria are "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful". The original version was unclear. The edited version is slightly better, although "figure of merit" is still a bit confusing. That aside, there is also the matter of what effort you've already made to answer your own question before posting it here. That is currently lacking.
    – J W
    Dec 15, 2022 at 11:43
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    "The lack of research" is valid issue. Have you read about pros/cons of H-index? have you searched for "tenure hiring criteria"? there are many attempt at quantifying research performance. Dec 17, 2022 at 0:53

3 Answers 3


There is no single measurable criteria by which one can easily evaluate the researcher performance.

Some quasi-efficient metrics include:

  1. publications - but it is relatively easy to produce a large number of low-quality papers (salami slicing, guest authorship, incremental research, unnecessary duplication of studies, paid-for publications, etc)
  2. publications in top-quality journals - better, but leads to massive bias towards well-funded groups and neglects good research from low-funded countries, individuals and research areas. Some very excellent researchers may decide not to go through peer-review system and publish their results only on preprint platforms like arXiv
  3. publications and citations (e.g. h-index) - better, but can be manipulated through excessive publishing and self-citations

There are other metrics, but none is perfect. Generally speaking, research is about the study of unknown, and you can't put a good KPI for this sort of activity, because you can't reliably measure what you don't know.


Since this is an academic forum, the top of the heap, elite scientists measure their own performance through their students performance and success.

More generally, esp for non teaching academics, see Dmitry's answer.


The h-index is the most common metric, but as this article shows, it can have counterintuitive behavior. Therefore, there is no good KPI for scientific careers.

  • Welcome to Academia.SE. Please note that our format is Q&A; answers should ideally stand alone, or at least have minimal dependence on other answers. I've made some edits to try to achieve this while preserving your reference.
    – cag51
    Dec 17, 2022 at 2:28

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