Snowball Metrics Exchange service

The Snowball Metrics Exchange Service enables the mutual sharing of metrics between institutions to allow the confident comparison and so provide reliable information to help understand research strengths, and thus to establish and monitor institutional strategies. The service is designed to facilitate the exchange of Snowball Metrics between peer institutions who agree that they would like to share information with each other such that:
  • any institution using Snowball Metrics can become a member of the Snowball Metrics Exchange
  • the institutional members are responsible for generating their own Snowball Metrics according to the recipes, whether they are calculated using a bespoke system, in a spreadsheet, or in a commercial tool
  • each institution can choose to be a member of one or more benchmarking clubs: groups of institutions which have agreed to exchange metrics with each other
  • institutions may choose to accept or decline requests to share all or some Snowball Metrics; this is entirely under their control
  • as the service develops, institutions will be able to use the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” facility in order to exchange equivalent Snowball Metrics with each other
  • only metric values will be exchanged. Data underlying the metrics will never be exchanged and will remain behind the institutions’ firewalls


The Exchange service is made of three components. The first component is the Snowball Metrics Uploader (Uploader) which includes an API and allows an institution to encrypt and upload metrics from their own institution for future exchange. The second component is the Snowball Metrics Exchange (SMX) which acts as the ‘broker’ to relay the encrypted metrics from an institutions Uploader to be available for download by entitled institutions. Within the SMX, an institution is able to manage the metric entitlements for each institution that has agreed to share metrics with them. The SMX has a linked API which can be called by the third component of the service, the Snowball Metrics Downloader (Downloader), allowing an institution to download/retrieve the encrypted metrics shared by participating institutions as shown in the diagram below. Any gaps, caveats and other factors around the data used to generate the metrics should be shared openly through the notes section within the exchange service.   snowbal

It should be noted that a CRIS system or bespoke home-built system could act as Uploader and Downloader within the service. API documentation is provided within the SMX around how to set up and communicate with the Snowball Metrics Exchange service APIs. It is also important to reiterate that the Snowball Metrics Exchange service does not rely on any metrics provider to generate metrics and how a user chooses to calculate the metric values is up to them. In addition, at no point is data shared within the exchange service and the encryption within the service ensures that only an entitled institution can decrypt shared metric values.

All metrics from the 3rd edition of the Snowball Metrics Recipe book are currently supported within the exchange service.

To participate in the service, you will need to register your institution for the service and install and setup the free Snowball Metrics Uploader and Downloader software behind your institutional firewall using the links on the right hand side.