How to use indicators to measure scientific performance: a balanced approach
Scientific performance should not be measured by a one-dimensional metric such as publication, since it is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. A quantitative analysis of the activities of research groups in three scientific fields demonstrates in particular the importance of sufficient numbers of PhD graduates and of contributions to the infrastructure of the scientific community, in terms of editorships or memberships of boards, etc. The results of a quantitative analysis are largely confirmed by a parallel qualitative investigation; however, both approaches complement each other by highlighting different aspects. For example, the qualitative approach conveys explicitly the demand structure for intermediary and final outputs in the qualitative approach that interlinks the activities of different research units. The results show that it is important for science policy to set appropriate incentives for all dimensions of scientific activities, i.e. not publication output exclusively, as this entails considerable hazard of distortion, endangering the sustainability of scientific research.