John F. Allen's Blog at

23rd September 2014

Nobel prizes as research assessment and dissemination

Filed under: Nobel Prize announcements — John Allen @ 1:39 pm

The Nobel committees for Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology or Medicine do a great job on the whole. Major advances are identified annually, and outlined for anyone to see.

Assessment is done the only sensible way – by inviting nominations as the basis for a decision on importance, this being made by a small group of distinguished scientists actively involved in each subject. No metrics, proxies, nor impact statements. No publication counts, journal impact factors, grant income. Compare with UK REF, research “performance management”, and nonsensical league tables.

Dissemination takes the form of the motivation and background to the awards. These are are models for increased public understanding of new discoveries and their significance.

Streams here are pubic, and from Live Video Player, part of the excellent and informative Nobel Prize Web site; a resource also for the history of science since 1901.


  1. After the first three Nobel Prize announcements, I rest my case. Everyone should listen to the reasoning behind the awards.

    The questions to Nobel Committee chairman Sven Lidin following the Chemistry announcement – Lidin understands exactly how science works. Metrics have no relevance at all. None. Impact factor, h-index, the lot. Hefce please note.

    The only thing to add to Lidin’s short list of absolute requirements for discovery is institutional support. UK institutions increasingly follow current consensus, and support only that research that they think (from past performance) will get grants. Some institutions even dismiss people for expressing dissent with the status quo. This eliminates the possibility of progress; of growth in human knowledge.

    Absurd, and wasteful.

    Comment by John Allen — 8th October 2014 @ 11:57 am

  2. 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Interview with Sven Lidin, Chairman of the Nobel Committee

    Comment by John Allen — 8th October 2014 @ 12:10 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress