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Arts and humanities research evaluation: no metrics please, just data

Mike Thelwall (School of Mathematics and Computer Science; Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Maria M Delgado (School of English and Drama, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 13 July 2015




The purpose of this paper is to make an explicit case for the use of data with contextual information as evidence in arts and humanities research evaluations rather than systematic metrics.


A survey of the strengths and limitations of citation-based indicators is combined with evidence about existing uses of wider impact data in the arts and humanities, with particular reference to the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework.


Data are already used as impact evidence in the arts and humanities but this practice should become more widespread.

Practical implications

Arts and humanities researchers should be encouraged to think creatively about the kinds of data that they may be able to generate in support of the value of their research and should not rely upon standardised metrics.


This paper combines practices emerging in the arts and humanities with research evaluation from a scientometric perspective to generate new recommendations.



Thank you to Elizabeth Westlake for discussions, advice and calculations relating to REF sub-panel issues.


Thelwall, M. and Delgado, M.M. (2015), "Arts and humanities research evaluation: no metrics please, just data", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 71 No. 4, pp. 817-833.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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