UCL Research


External Bibliometric initiatives and UCL commitments

Numerous external initiatives have helped shape UCL’s Bibliometrics policy. Below you’ll find some links for further information.

San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) was created in 2012 by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and a group of editors and publishers of scholarly journals. The declaration recognises the need to improve the ways in which the outputs of scientific research are evaluated, including putting less reliance on the Journal Impact Factor as a measure. Individuals and organisations concerned about the appropriate assessment of scientific research are encouraged to sign the declaration. UCL was one of the first UK universities to have signed DORA, and its principles are embedded into the UCL institutional policy.

Wellcome Trust

Wellcome is a strong supporter of Open Science initiatives and leader in strengthening research cultures. Among some new initiatives, they now require all Wellcome-funded organisations to have either sign or publically commit to the principles of DORA, or an analogous plan, such as an internal policy.

REF and the HEFCE Metric Tide report

The Research Excellence Framework has several recommendations and rules about the use of bibliometrics in the assessment of research outputs and for standardising use in impact and environmental statements.

UCL’s commitments to metric use in REF can be found in our Code of Practice.

A significant contributor to the REF use of metrics was the HEFCE report: The Metrics Tide.

The Metric Tide report was produced by an expert group for HEFCE (now Research England) in 2015. It was set up to investigate the roles that quantitative indicators can play in the assessment and management of research, particularly in the context of the REF. The report concluded that although it is not feasible to assess the quality or impact of research outputs using quantitative indicators alone, the approach used in REF2014 of using quantitative data to complement peer/expert review should be continued and enhanced in future assessments (see below).

Alongside this, it established the concept of "responsible metrics" to define the appropriate uses of quantitative indicators for the governance, management and assessment of research, setting out five key aspects of responsible use (robustness, humility, transparency, diversity, and reflexivity).

Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics

The Leiden Manifesto for research metrics, published in Nature in 2015 by a number of bibliometric specialists, sets out ten principles for the responsible use of metrics. It goes beyond the initial focus of DORA on journal-level metrics to address broader themes, such as the need to protect locally significant research, avoid false precision, and to account for the systemic effects of using specific metrics. Many institutional metrics policies, including that of UCL, draw heavily on the principles in the manifesto.

Snowball Metrics

Snowball Metrics is an international initiative for research-intensive universities from around the globe to agree on methodologies for metrics to enable confident comparisons.

The UK Forum for Responsible Research Metrics

The FRRM is supporting the responsible use of metrics in the UK, including shaping the use of metrics in REF.

The Bibliomagician

The Bibliomagician is a blog run by members of the UK’s Library and Information Services community. It contains several resources and guides for metric use, as well as some examples of other universities' bibliometric policies and statements.

Open Science and Plan S

Open Science intends to revolutionise academic and scientific research by making it more efficient, transparent, interdisciplinary, reproducible, ethical and accessible. While the research community generally embraces the principles of Open Science, out-dated research evaluation practices - that reward researchers based on a set of traditional metrics rather than intrinsic value of the research - remains a significant challenge, because a focus on inappropriate metrics reduces the incentives for researchers to seek Open Science alternatives for publishing.  

More information on UCL's Open Science initiatives at the UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship.


Plan S is guiding European research organisations towards Open Science. One of the key principles of Plan S directly states a need to value research by its intrinsic value and that the impact factor should not be used by funders to evaluate research.

Plan S Principles