Snowball Metrics – providing a robust methodology to inform research strategy – but do they help?

Anna Clements, Peter I. Darroch, John Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Universities and funders need robust metrics to help them develop and monitor evidence-based strategies. Metrics are a part, albeit an important part, of the evaluation landscape, and no single metric can paint a holistic picture or inform strategy. A “basket of metrics” alongside other evaluation methods such as peer review are needed. Snowball Metrics offer a robust framework for measuring research performance and related data exchange and analysis, providing a consistent approach to information and measurement between institutions, funders and government bodies. The output of Snowball Metrics is a set of mutually agreed and tested methodologies: “recipes”. These recipes are available free-of-charge and can be used by anyone for their own purposes. A freely available API: the Snowball Metrics Exchange service (SMX), acts as a free “broker service” for the exchange of Snowball Metrics between peer institutions who agree that they would like to share information with each other and any institution can become a member of the SMX. In this paper, we present a use case where the University of St Andrews reviewed its institutional level KPIs referring to the Snowball Metrics recipes. In conclusion, quantitative data inform, but do not and should not ever replace, peer review judgments of research quality – whether in a national assessment exercise, or for any other purpose. Metrics can support human judgment and direct further investigation to pertinent areas, thus contributing to a fully rounded view on the research question being asked. We suggest using a “basket of metrics” approach measuring multiple qualities and applied to multiple entities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-18
Number of pages8
JournalProcedia Computer Science
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2017
EventCRIS2016: 13th International Conference on Current Research Information Systems - St Andrews, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Jun 201611 Jun 2016


  • Snowball Metrics
  • Metrics
  • Research metrics
  • Basket of metrics
  • Snowball Metrics Exchange
  • Metric recipe
  • Research evaluation
  • Metric methodology
  • Research impact
  • Research quality


Dive into the research topics of 'Snowball Metrics – providing a robust methodology to inform research strategy – but do they help?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this