Beyond Bibliometrics – Identifying the Best

8th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities

6 – 7 November 2014, Berlin


Against the background of tighter budgets all over the world, there is increasing pressure for research funding organizations to make the right funding decisions, and for research performing institutions to recruit the right researchers. Yet there are no generally agreed criteria for evaluating scientific output and for evaluating the people performing research. Driven by a desire to employ empirically sound and easy-to-apply methods, decision-makers throughout the world tend to use bibliometrics as a putatively accurate instrument. However, while the reduction of complexity through bibliometrics might appear attractive at first sight, there is an increasing awareness of the shortcomings: With new forms of scientific output entering the scene, and with an increase in expectations considering the contribution of research to society as a whole, research impact and the identification of the best research(ers) has become an increasingly complex multidimensional affair that goes beyond citation impact. And perhaps even more importantly, bibliometrics might inadvertently have normative and regulatory, and not necessarily positive, effects on the way scientific research itself is done – be it in the natural sciences, the social sciences, or the humanities.

Participants at the 8th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities
8th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and
Humanities, Berlin

Photo: Humboldt Foundation/David Ausserhofer

The 8th Forum on the Internationalization of Science and Humanities looked at the systemic effect of bibliometrics from three different angles: First, from the perspective of science managers; secondly, from the perspective of academic practitioners; and thirdly, from the perspective of funding organizations. Without entering into a technical discussion the Forum compared currently employed methods for evaluating the quality of scientific output and debated their merits and demerits as well as the implications their application has for scientific systems worldwide. The Forum discussed possible alternatives to those methods while aiming to come up with suggestions which take into account the different needs of the sciences and the humanities, respectively.

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Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities

International Advisory Board


Frank Albrecht
Senior Coordinator
Strategic Planning Division
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Jean-Paul-Str. 12
53173 Bonn

Phone: +49 (228) 833 122

Dr. Martin Schaffartzik
Program Director
Strategic Planning Division

Dr. Barbara Sheldon
Head of
Strategic Planning Division