• Citation indices;
  • Multilevel models;
  • Research assessment;
  • Research funding

Summary.  In the UK and elsewhere, there has been considerable debate about the use of quantitative indicators, known as ‘metrics’, to judge research performance of individual academics and university departments. We carry out an analysis of the grades that are awarded to research grant applications to explore the extent to which such information can be used for this purpose. Our results suggest that the usefulness of these data is limited and also that similar important limitations are associated with other metrics such as those based on journal paper citation indices.