Rethinking humane indicators of excellence in the humanities and social sciences

About HuMetricsHSS

HuMetricsHSS is an initiative for rethinking humane indicators of excellence in academia, focused particularly on the humanities and social sciences (HSS). Comprised of individuals and organizations from the academic, commercial, and non-profit sectors, HuMetricsHSS endeavors to create and support a values-based framework for understanding and evaluating all aspects of the scholarly life well-lived and for promoting the nurturing of these values in scholarly practice. We are currently in the initial, exploratory phase of the project.

HuMetricsHSS logo

Strategic Approach

HuMetricsHSS takes the approach that metrics should only be used to measure a scholar’s progress toward embodying five values that our initial research suggests are central to all HSS disciplines:

  • COLLEGIALITY, which can be described as the professional practices of kindness, generosity, and empathy toward other scholars and oneself;
  • QUALITY, a value that demonstrates one’s originality, willingness to push boundaries, methodological soundness, and the advancement of knowledge both within one’s own discipline and among other disciplines and with the general public, as well;
  • EQUITY, or the willingness to undertake study with social justice, equitable access to research, and the public good in mind;
  • OPENNESS, which includes a researcher’s transparency, candor, and accountability, in addition to the practice of making one’s research OPEN ACCESS at all stages; and
  • COMMUNITY, the value of being engaged in one’s community of practice and with the public at large and also in practicing principled leadership.


With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, over the coming 18 months the HuMetricsHSS team expects to accomplish the following goals on its way toward bettering evaluation in the academy:

  • Articulate values common to scholarly practice in the HSS disciplines to create a proposed “humane” evaluation framework;
  • Integrate previous work done in values, metrics, and evaluation in the HSS into the HuMetricsHSS values-based evaluation framework;
  • Create a small set of use cases for applying values-based evaluation practices (e.g., creating a syllabus, contributing to an annotation);
  • Solicit community feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders across HSS disciplines on the proposed values framework;
  • Organize a small pilot cohort of framework adopters (i.e., organizations that pledge to apply the framework in their own evaluation practices);
  • Iteratively improve the framework based upon cohort feedback and continued consultation with the community and external evaluation experts; and
  • Seek widespread adoption of the HuMetrics values-based framework by HSS funding agencies, departments, research institutes, and scholarly societies.

Team HuMetricsHSS

HuMetricsHSS is led by a core team of individuals with diverse backgrounds who share the common goal of cultivating excellence in HSS:

We are ably assisted by Penny Weber, Digital Culture Program Assistant at SSRC.

MSU HuMetricsHSS Steering Committee:

Ann Austin
Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Bill Hart-Davidson
Beronda Montgomery