Research productivity and impact are often considered in professional evaluations of academics, and performance metrics based on publications and citations increasingly are used in such evaluations. To promote evidence-based and informed use of these metrics, we collected publication and citation data for 437 tenure-track faculty members at 33 research-extensive universities in the United States belonging to the National Association of University Fisheries and Wildlife Programs. For each faculty member, we computed 8 commonly used performance metrics based on numbers of publications and citations, and recorded covariates including academic age (time since Ph.D.), sex, percentage of appointment devoted to research, and the sub-disciplinary research focus. Standardized deviance residuals from regression models were used to compare faculty after accounting for variation in performance due to these covariates. We also aggregated residuals to enable comparison across universities. Finally, we tested for temporal trends in citation practices to assess whether the "law of constant ratios", used to enable comparison of performance metrics between disciplines that differ in citation and publication practices, applied to fisheries and wildlife sub-disciplines when mapped to Web of Science Journal Citation Report categories. Our regression models reduced deviance by 1/4 to 1/2. Standardized residuals for each faculty member, when combined across metrics as a simple average or weighted via factor analysis, produced similar results in terms of performance based on percentile rankings. Significant variation was observed in scholarly performance across universities, after accounting for the influence of covariates. In contrast to findings for other disciplines, normalized citation ratios for fisheries and wildlife sub-disciplines increased across years. Increases were comparable for all sub-disciplines except ecology. We discuss the advantages and limitations of our methods, illustrate their use when applied to new data, and suggest future improvements. Our benchmarking approach may provide a useful tool to augment detailed, qualitative assessment of performance. © 2016 Swihart et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date of this Version
Swihart R.K., Sundaram M., Höök T.O., DeWoody J.A., Kellner K.F. Performance benchmarks for scholarly metrics associated with fisheries and wildlife faculty. PLOS ONE Volume 11, Issue 5, 1 May 2016, Article number e0155097. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155097