Snowball Metrics


This international project will integrate with, and build on, the work of the Snowball Metrics UK Steering Group, and US and ANZ Working Groups, by extending community participation in the initiative, to include a wider range of stakeholders and to advance the outputs of the Snowball Metrics initiative as CASRAI standard exchange files based on, or extending, the terminology in the common dictionary.


Snowball Metrics aim to become the international standard that is endorsed by research-intensive universities so that they can build and monitor the most effective strategies. It is a “bottom-up”, or sector-led, initiative in which universities themselves agree a single method to calculate metrics about their own performance so that they can compare themselves against each other in an apples-to-apples way. This enables them to benchmark and understand their strengths and weaknesses to help to decide in which areas to invest, and in which to divest.

Snowball Metrics are not proprietary; they do not depend on a particular data source or supplier, and are based on a combination of all the data sources available to universities: institutional, third party and commercial sources. The output is a set of mutually agreed and tested methodologies: “recipes”. These recipes are available free-of-charge and can be used by anyone for their own purposes and, if applicable, under their own business models.

Snowball Metrics has two main objectives:

  • To publish free recipes that enable benchmarking across all of a university’s research-related activities. The recently published recipe book is a significant step towards that aim, with a total of 24 recipes spread across the landscape of activities. The next phase will include metrics in post-graduate education and collaboration, as well as a thematic subject classification.
  • To be endorsed by universities and adopted globally. The approach to this is multi-faceted:
    • Engage with Working Groups of universities to ensure that they endorse and enhance the Snowball Metrics recipes. Groups are currently active in the UK, US and Australia-New Zealand. There is significant interest in the Asia-Pacific region, and we aim to build on this to establish a group of universities that would include the current ANZ group.
    • Work with suppliers of research information to encourage adoption of Snowball Metrics. Elsevier already endorses Snowball Metrics, and has implemented them in their Research Management portfolio, and we have strong indications that another supplier will adopt them this year (2014).
    • Spread the word globally and gain traction in the sector with knowledge and enthusiasm to use Snowball Metrics as the global standard for universities to benchmark themselves.


  • George Chacko, University of Illinois
  • Anna Clements, University of St Andrews (Co-chair)
  • Lisa Colledge, Elsevier Inc (Co-chair)
  • Mark Cox, Kings College London
  • Kevin Dolby, Wellcome Trust
  • Catherine Gold, Elsevier Inc
  • Jorge Herskovic, University of Texas
  • Martin Kirk, University of British Columbia
  • Linda Naughton, Jisc
  • Simon Pratt, Thomson Reuters
  • Gavin Reddick, MRC
  • Thomas Vestdam, Elsevier Inc
  • Andy Youell, HESA/HEDIIP


Working Group meets once per month. Please find below a list of meeting dates.  Dates link to summaries of key points and actions of the group discussions following the meetings.