Snowball Metrics is, crucially, a bottom-up initiative. It is owned by research-intensive universities around the globe, to ensure that its outputs are of practical use to them, and are not imposed by organizations with potentially distinct aims such as funders, agencies, or suppliers of research information.
The universities aim to agree on methodologies that are robustly and clearly defined, so that the metrics they describe enable the confident comparison of apples with apples. These metrics are data source- and system-agnostic, meaning that they are not tied to any particular provider of data or tools. The resulting benchmarks between research-intensive universities provide reliable information to help understand research strengths, and thus to establish and monitor institutional strategies.
The aspiration is for these metrics to become global standards that enable institutional benchmarking, and to cover the entire spectrum of research activities.
The agreed and tested methodologies are available free-of-charge to be used by any organization:
Snowball Metrics is an academia-industry collaboration. The universities involved are following the recommendations outlined by the sector in the 2010 report on research information management, and collaborating with an industry supplier of research information, Elsevier, to ensure that the methodologies are technically feasible before they are shared with the sector.
Snowball Metrics was initiated in the United Kingdom, and the project partners are:
University of Oxford
University College London
University of Cambridge
Imperial College London
University of Bristol
University of Leeds
Queen’s University Belfast
University of St Andrews
The creation of the United States Working Group was stimulated by a 2012 report from the Research Universities Futures Consortium, and is composed of:
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Arizona State University
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Kansas State University
A Working Group has also been formed in Australia / New Zealand, composed initially of the following universities:
University of Queensland
University of Western Australia
University of Auckland
University of Wollongong
University of Tasmania
University of Canberra
Charles Darwin University
The universities above are ordered by their Scholarly Output in 2013.