Impact Vitality - A Measure for Excellent Scientists

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


1 Background
In many countries and at European level, research policy increasingly focuses on 'excellent' researchers. The concept of excellence however is complex and multidimensional. For individual scholars it involves talents for innovative knowledge creation and successful transmission to peers, as well as management capacities. Excellence is also a comparative concept, implying the ability to surpass others [TIJSSEN, 2003]. Grants are in general awarded based on assessments by expert committees. While peer review is a widely accepted practice, it nevertheless is also subject to criticism. At higher aggregation levels, peer assessments are often supported by quantitative measures. At individual level, most of these measures are much less appropriate and there is a need for new, dedicated indicators.
2 Research question
The central question is how to define excellent scientists, so that they can be recognized among very good researchers in a way suited to a policy tool. We apply this question to publication activity. A suitable indicator further needs to cope with several prerequisites and challenges. Briefly, it needs to conceptually represent capacities sought, be validated preferably by correlations with peers' appreciations, minimize influence of occasional outlyers and faulty data, avoid bias, reflect recent performance and be easy to calculate to serve policy needs, and be hard to manipulate not to perturb a good scientific publication culture.
3 Methodology
From excellence programmes, qualitative appreciations were selected which distinguish excellence from lower performance levels and which apply to publication and citation behaviour. After translation into measurable quantities, an indicator was built considering the prerequisites and challenges involved.
5 Conclusion and further research
A novel indicator is proposed to help identify excellent scientists, reflecting a sustained increase of publications that cite their work. It is relatively easy to calculate and hard to manipulate and has a limited sensitivity to outlyers in citation counts and to faults in references. Further features are a scope broader than the scientist's indexed publications and independence regarding size and citation culture of the research community. While a first test of limited size looks promising, further research is necessary on larger samples and for different indicator variants before any use can be recommended within a set of indicators for the assessment of individual scientists.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication10th International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators, Vienna, Austria, 17-20 September 2008
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009


ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet


  • Research evaluation
  • Excellence
  • Citation Impact
  • Impact Vitality


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