Universities and research institutes shall always give originality and quality precedence before quantity in their criteria for performance evaluation. This applies to academic degrees, to career advancement, appointments and the allocation of resources.

For the individual scientist and scholar, the conditions of his or her work and its evaluation may facilitate or hinder observing good scientific practice. Conditions that favor dishonest conduct should be changed. For example, criteria that primarily measure quantity create incentives for mass production and are therefore likely to be inimical to high quality science and scholarship.

Quantitative criteria today are common in judging academic achievement at all levels. They usually serve as an informal or implicit standard, although cases of formal requirements of this type have also been reported. They apply in many different contexts: length of Master or Ph.D. thesis, number of publications for the Habilitation (formal qualification for university professorships in German speaking countries), as criteria for career advancements, appointments, peer review of grant proposals, etc. This practice needs revision with the aim of returning to qualitative criteria. The revision should begin at the first degree level and include all stages of academic qualification. For applications for academic appointments, a maximum number of publications should regularly be requested for the evaluation of scientific merit.

Since publications are the most important 'product' of research, it may have seemed logical, when comparing achievement, to measure productivity as the number of products, i.e. publications, per length of time. But this has led to abuses like the so-called salami publications, repeated publication of the same findings, and observance of the principle of the LPU (least publishable unit).Moreover, since productivity measures yield little useful information unless refined by quality measures, the length of publication lists was soon complemented by additional criteria like the reputation of the journals in which publications appeared, quantified as their “impact factor” However, clearly neither counting publications nor computing their cumulative impact factors are by themselves adequate forms of performance evaluation. On the contrary, they are far removed from the features that constitute the quality element of scientific achievement: its originality, its 'level of innovation', its contribution to the advancement of knowledge. Through the growing frequency of their use, they rather run the danger of becoming surrogates for quality judgements instead of helpful indicators.

Quantitative performance indicators have their use in comparing collective activity and output at a high level of aggregation (faculties, institutes, entire countries) in an overview, or for giving a salient impression of developments over time. For such purposes, bibliometry today supplies a variety of instruments. However, they require specific expertise in their application.

An adequate evaluation of the achievements of an individual or a small group, however, always requires qualitative criteria in the narrow sense: their publications must be read and critically compared to the relevant state of the art and to the contributions of other individuals and working groups. This confrontation with the content of the science, which demands time and care, is the essential core of peer review for which there is no alternative. The superficial use of quantitative indicators will only serve to devalue or to obfuscate the peer review process.

The rules that follow from this for the practice of scientific work and for the supervision of young scientists and scholars are clear. They apply conversely to peer review and performance evaluation:

Even in fields where intensive competition requires rapid publication of findings, quality of work and of publications must be the primary consideration. Findings, wherever factually possible, must be controlled and replicated before being submitted for publication.

Wherever achievement has to be evaluated – in reviewing grant proposals, in

personnel management, in comparing applications for appointments – the evaluators and reviewers must be encouraged to make explicit judgments of quality before all else. They should therefore receive the smallest reasonable number of publications selected by their authors as the best examples of their work according to the criteria by which they are to be evaluated.

–> 4.5 Storage of primary DATA