Metric-based vs peer-reviewed evaluation of a research output: lesson learnt from UK’s national research assessment exercise

Kushwanth Koya, Gobinda Chowdhury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: There is a general inquisition regarding the monetary value of a research output, as a substantial amount of funding in modern academia is essentially awarded to good research presented in the form of journal articles, conference papers, performances, compositions, exhibitions, books and book chapters etc., which, eventually leads to another question if the value varies across different disciplines. Answers to these questions will not only assist academics and researchers, but will also help higher education institutions (HEIs) make informed decisions in their administrative and research policies. Design and methodology: To examine both the questions, we applied the United Kingdom’s recently concluded national research assessment exercise known as the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 as a case study. All the data for this study is sourced from the openly available publications which arose from the digital repositories of REF’s results and HEFCE’s funding allocations. Findings: A world leading output earns between £7504 and £14,639 per year within the REF cycle, whereas an internationally excellent output earns between £1876 and £3659, varying according to their area of research. Secondly, an investigation into the impact rating of 25315 journal articles submitted in five areas of research by UK HEIs and their awarded funding revealed a linear relationship between the percentage of quartile-one journal publications and percentage of 4* outputs in Clinical Medicine, Physics and Psychology/Psychiatry/Neuroscience UoAs, and no relationship was found in the Classics and Anthropology/Development Studies UoAs, due to the fact that most publications in the latter two disciplines are not journal articles. Practical implications: The findings provide an indication of the monetary value of a research output, from the perspectives of government funding for research, and also what makes a good output, i.e. whether a relationship exists between good quality output and the source of its publication. The findings may also influence future REF submission strategies in HEIs and ascertain that the impact rating of the journals is not necessarily a reflection of the quality of research in every discipline, and this may have a significant influence on the future of scholarly communications in general. Originality: According to the author’s knowledge, this is the first time an investigation has estimated the monetary value of a good research output.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0179722
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2017


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