Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Metrics: a long-term threat to society

A predictive h-index formula for measuring a scientist's potential success (D. E. Acuna et al. Nature 489, 201–202; 2012) might be convenient for decision-making by hiring committees and funding agencies, but such metrics threaten the researcher's wider contribution to society.

Long-term creativity is needed if scientists are to inspire the younger generation. As Albert Einstein said, “creativity is the residue of time wasted” — but researchers are no longer in a position to waste time.

Research pressures also curtail the quality of teaching and supervision, and disadvantage mothers who are trying to build a scientific career (K. R. O'Brien and K. P. Hapgood Oikos 121, 999–1004; 2012). Moreover, early burnout means that some highly trained scientists are being lost to society.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Malgorzata Blicharska.

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Future impact: Predicting scientific success

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Blicharska, M., Mikusinski, G. Metrics: a long-term threat to society. Nature 490, 343 (2012).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing