Introducing ‘facilitymetrics’: a first review and analysis of commonly used measures of scientific leadership among synchrotron radiation facilities worldwide
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Big Science accelerator complexes are no longer mere tools for nuclear and particle physics, but modern-day experimental resources for a wide range of natural sciences and often named instrumental to scientific and technological development for innovation and economic growth. Facilities compete on a global market to attract the best users and facilitate the best science, and advertise the achievement of their users as markers of quality and productivity. Thus a need has risen for (quantitative) quality assessment of science on the level of facilities. In this article, we examine some quantitative performance measurements frequently used by facilities to display quality: technical reliability, competition for access, and publication records. We report data from the world’s three largest synchrotron radiation facilities from the years 2004–2010, and discuss their meaning and significance by placing them in proper context. While we argue that quality is not possible to completely capture in these quantitative metrics, we acknowledge their apparent importance and, hence, we introduce and propose facilitymetrics as a new feature of the study of modern big science, and as a new empirical focus for scientometrical study, in the hope that future studies can contribute to a deeper, much-needed analysis of the topic.
KeywordsBig Science Synchrotron radiation facilities Quality assessment Performance assessment Productivity
The author is grateful to Rick Fenner and Susan Strasser at the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, for their assistance in retrieving some data unavailable in Annual Reports. The author also would like to thank Gustav Holmberg for the recurring fruitful discussions that eventually led to this article.
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