Trying to assess research excellence using bibliometrics was considered, and then ditched, by HEFCE when it was developing the REF. However, citation-based metrics are still in the news. Using such a system, the EPSRC Citations Study 2009 has shown that there is 'no evidence' that blue skies research produces more highly cited papers than targeted funding. This is surprising, as the assumption is that 'blue skies' research is inherently more excellent, more world-leading and ground-breaking, than that which responds to specific calls.
Elsewhere the Science and Technology Policy Research unit at Sussex is attempting to pin down the humanities using citations, in a way that is currently used in the sciences. Although more robust than the systems currently used, it's had a sniffy reception by the sector. 'No one in the humanities agrees we need bibliometrics,' said Judi Loach of Cardiff. 'We don't think it is appropriate to our disciplines.'