Governing Higher Education: The PURE Data System and the Management of the Bibliometric Self

  • Miguel Antonio LimEmail author
Original Article


This article reflects on the ‘quantified self at work’ (Moore and Robinson in New Media Soc 18(11):2774–2792, 2016), neoliberal government (Miller and Rose in Econ Soc 19(1):1–31, 1990; Rose and Miller in Br J Sociol 43(2):173–205, 1992; Ball in J Educ Policy 18(2):215–228, 2003), and the use of bibliometric technologies that record research output. It charts and reflects upon the development of the ‘bibliometric self’ by presenting an analysis of the case of PURE – a data management system increasingly used in higher education. PURE is an important case to study because it (1) requires academics to engage with the software and actively update their own profiles and (2) aims to capture all academic activities and not only publication records. Its design – both category-bound but also open to other inputs – allows it to become a ‘total’ management system. It is becoming central to the work of research managers and heads of departments who rely on PURE to provide data for internal and external assessments (such as the UK’s Research Excellence Framework). The article shows how users engage with the software as well as the context in which PURE was designed and continues to develop. It concludes by reiterating the need for a critical but hands-on engagement with the everyday technologies in use in higher education policy.


higher education PURE governance policy instruments performativity bibliometrics 



This work was supported by the European Commission FP7 People programme: Marie Curie Initial Training Network UNIKE (Universities in the Knowledge Economy) under Grant Agreement Number 317452.


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Copyright information

© International Association of Universities 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Institute of EducationThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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