Saturday, 3 March 2012

Metrics of redundancy

The end is nigh. Almost. Earlier this week we received our classifications as either support or "leading" scientists, as well as the appropriate pro forma that accompanies this diagnosis. I'm in the latter (though most of what I do is grunt-work) so my fate dangles uncomfortably on my publication record and the clawing in of cash. The former is a perfectly acceptable metric to judge a scientist on, the latter, while not terrible, can miss the point a bit in our organisation since we're largely supported by core funding that (largely) obviates the need to apply for cold hard cash. Needless to say, while I have been flailing about unsuccessfully for money, it hasn't been a priority for me.

Anyway, as part of this pro forma I've been cobbling together stuff on my less-than-stellar publication record. The Web of Knowledge has a subsection to help with this so yesterday I set myself up with a profile and linked together my ISI-recognised list of papers. This lets me calculate something called the "h-index" for myself (14, apparently), and produce a whole load of faintly interesting graphs about my work.

This one shows how I'm accumulating citations since I burst onto the "scene" back in 1998 (Lamarck and prions). At first glance it looks pretty good. But even a cursory second glance makes it look like I've peaked - and am possibly on the way back down! :-)

This second one shows where I'm being cited, or, rather, what keywords are associated with the places I'm being cited. Interesting that oceanography comes in second, but I guess that some of the journals I'm published in (e.g. GBC) aren't strictly ocean-only. I've no idea why my work is quite so appealing to geology, but I'll take citations wherever I can get them. Especially at this point!

Anyway, our pro forma summaries have to be in by the 12th March (perfect timing given I'm off on holiday until then), and then the judging process begins. D-Day for our fates is the 28th March (again, perfect, since I'm at a conference then). Just in time for Easter and the resurrection of "the departed" into glorious new careers. It's going to be a bad month whether I survive or not.


Graham said...

Interesting to see how it's all calculated in cold, hard terms. Reminds me of my work with preicted intakes and staffing levels. I'll be crossing everything for you - assuming you want to be left in the aftermath...

Plumbago said...

It's finally wound up having a dollop of subjectivity dropped on top via some slightly more nebulous metrics. But they serve only to muddy things even more, so I'd be even more reluctant now to estimate my odds of surviving the cull.

Thanks for the, erm, bits crossing. As for whether I want to be left in the aftermath, that's a good question. My mood flip-flops on this point. It will without a doubt be a royal pain the arse to lose my job, but I can see good (well, maybe "not-bad") sides too.

Anyway, next Wednesday is D-Day ... and I'm off at a conference!