Weekly poll: favorite wolf metric?

One aspect of living in any kind of social setting is being assessed, rated and tested by one’s peers. Constantly. We are social creatures: we need to know who we are up against in any given setting. It is, after all, a matter of life and death, or at the very  of gene dispersal. We have replaced butt-sniffing, teeth baring and chest drumming with “..the firm handshake / A certain look in the eye, and an easy smile” for first impressions. (Although I would personally take butt-sniffing over certain club ties most days.)

But we do not only look for first impressions. We look for long-lasting impressions, we want to see the future. Our future of course, but also the future of our kith and kin. After all, our kin carry some of the genes we are imbued to disperse: we would like to take care of that. But also our kith, our extended tribe members, current, future and pending: if we take this wolf to the pack will it be able to hunt as well as the rest of us? Will it slow down the pack during migrations?  Will it dominate the herd in a year? Will it steal all our females and eat all of our cubs? Will it not pull its weight during hunting expeditions?


Credit: WickedSunshine.com

Welcome to the loopy and lupine world of metrics.

The wolfpacks of academia (read: departments) have a whole culture of ranking and assessments. Before the tenure-track wolf is accepted, a long list of future metrics are being brought out: in which packs did he PhD and postdoc? What do the pack leaders say about him? (reference letters) How good are his hunting skills (papers, conferences, invited talks) How good are his social skills? (Interview, more reference letters, phone calls).

After Dr. Wolf is finally accepted in the pack (from about 150 howling to get in), the hunting and fighting skills are put to careful periodic testing: how many grants? How much money? From which agencies? How many conference talks? How many invited talks? How are the teaching evaluations? And of course: how is the research?  How many papers? Where? What is the impact factor of the journals in which Dr. Wolf publishes? In some (I would like to think more enlightened) packs, other article-level metrics are being used. At the same time there are, of course,  the personal metrics:  What is Wolf’s h-index? g-index? h-b index?

Dear wolves, cubs and assorted members of Kingdom Animalia: what is your favorite Canis lupus related metric if at all? Poll on the right, you know the drill.

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