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The Cristin system

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Funding for higher education institutions is partly based on their productivity. The product is research, manifested as scientific publications. As a publishing researcher in Norway, you must relate to the national model ‘tellekantsystemet’ that ranks and weights publications. One goal of the Norwegian model is to provide an overview of the scholarly output. Another goal is to increase output and quality through incentives. CRISTIN is an acronym for the Current Research Information System in Norway. On this page you will learn how the system works:

  • How is the Norwegian model designed?
  • How do you identify approved publication channels?
  • How are publications weighted and publication points assigned in your field of research?
  • How may the model affect the choices you make for your publications?

What you need to know as an author

To ensure that your institution secures its share of the funding, all publications are registered at the institution and then reported to the Ministry of Education and Research via a joint statistical database. As a researcher you can add value to the model itself and increase funding to your institution by keeping the following points in mind:

  • Publish your work in an approved publication channel
  • Comply with the requirements and policies of funders, authorities and your host institution regarding open access
  • Make sure your institutional affiliation is correctly stated in the final publication (see Section 3.2 and Section 7 of the CRISTIN reporting instructions)
  • Make sure you are recognized as a co-author
  • Register your work in the national CRISTIN database (instructions here!)
  • Upload your publications to the institutional archive via CRISTIN
  • If your preferred channel is not on the approved list, you can suggest its inclusion to the Norwegian Register for Scientific Journals, Series and Publishers (note: it may take time for a decision to be made)

Outline of the Norwegian model

The model, popularly named ‘tellekantsystemet’, was introduced in 2005 by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, and revised in 2015. To encourage higher education institutions to publish their research more often and more internationally was the main reason for introducing the model. A few key points:

  • Total allocated funds fixed each year
  • List of approved scientific publication channels
  • Funds distributed between institutions based on publication points
  • Publication points awarded to publications differ according to type and impact/reputation
  • Publication points are assigned to the authors of the publication and divided between them
  • International cooperation is encouraged
  • Funding is granted to the author’s institution, not the individual author

The Norwegian model: further reading

For more information, please refer to the Norwegian Publication Indicator web site.

Approved publication channels

At the core of the model is the notion of ‘publication channel’. The publication channel is the medium by which the publication is communicated to the public, usually journals, publishers, or web sites.

As noted above, the Norwegian model incorporates a list of publication channels regarded as scientific. There are both national and international publication channels on the list. All channels on the list have been vetted by scientific panels invited by the National Board of Scholarly Publishing. Channels on the list are thus regarded as satisfying a minimum level of quality.

Works published in a publication channel on the list can be awarded publication points, provided they fulfill certain criteria. The list is further divided into two levels: an upper level reflecting the most highly regarded publication channels, and a base level for the mainstream channels. The main idea behind the two levels is to encourage researchers and institutions to publish their research results in the most highly regarded publication channels.

Identify approved publication channels
  • You can search for approved publication channels by visiting the Norwegian Centre for Research Data. When you perform a search for a specific journal, you also learn whether it is an open access journal listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

Publication points

In order to receive publication points, the publication must comply with these criteria as well as being in an approved publication channel:

Not all types of publication are equal

To be able to base funding on scientific publications, authorities need to:

  • Give publications a weighting
  • Sort the publications that count from the rest

Making sure that the items which count are in fact comparable is a challenge. Since the different subject areas differ in publication traditions, there is a need to consider:

  • publication tradition – books or journals
  • national or international readership
  • number of highly regarded journals or publishers within field

In order to receive publication points, the publication must comply with these criteria as well as being in an approved publication channel:

  • The work must be peer-reviewed
  • The work must be accessible to interested parties
  • There must be ‘new insight’
  • The work must not have been previously published
  • The author and the author’s institution must be clearly stated in the publication
  • The publication channel must be clearly marked with name and/or identifier

This means that publication points are awarded to the institution as stated in the publication, regardless of where the researcher is actually working at the time of publication. Further, points can only be granted for the year printed in the publication itself, irrespective of the true year of publication, if they differ.

Books and articles

Different disciplines can have different publication traditions. A historian might write a single book every four years, whereas a microbiologist may very well publish many articles every year, each with multiple co-authors. What about books versus articles? International focus or local focus? Many scientific journals in your field, or just a few – or even a single one?

One of the major dividing lines in publishing patterns goes between the ‘article subjects’ and the ‘book subjects’. A simple diagram can be made:

Articles Mixed Books
Astronomy Economics Cultural Anthropology
Biology Mathematics Archaeology
Chemistry Informatics Philosophy
Medicine Communications History
Psychology Statistics Linguistics
Geography Sociology

Chart adapted from UHR, 2004

The table is by no means exact or complete, but gives a clear impression that there are differences between the subjects. When weighting publications and awarding points, we need to make sure that the items that can be compared. Most people would agree that there is more ‘work’ involved in a single author monograph than in a short article for a national journal. The obvious solution is to award different points to different kinds of publications. In Norway we have this distribution:

Level 1
Monograph 5 points*
Book article or chapter 0.7 points
Journal article 1 point

* For simplicity called “points” here. In reality we are dealing with author weightings.

This distribution is for level 1 of scientific publication channels. For level 2, the highest ranking publication channels, there is a different distribution:

Level 2
Monograph 8 points
Book article or chapter 1 point
Journal article 3 points


We see that the system indicates that writing an article in an anthology has the lowest ‘work load’ or academic status, whereas writing a monograph has the most. Level 2 differentiates more than level 1, with a considerable increase in points over level 1 for journal articles, but only a slight increase for anthologies or book chapters.

The reason for this shift in focus is based on the publication patterns for the different subjects; the typical ‘book subjects’ have traditionally fewer publication channels to choose from, and as the ratio between levels 1 and 2 is fixed in the Norwegian system, one could argue that it is harder to get accepted by a level 2 journal within the ‘journal subjects’ than it is to be accepted by a level 2 publisher in the ‘book subjects’.

Further complicating the picture here is the fact that all researchers are supposed to have equal opportunities to find a suitable level 2 publication channel in their field. As a result, you may find that in some areas there is a relatively large number of national level 2 publishers, such as in Nordic studies and classics, because there are basically not too many publishers to choose from, while for e.g. molecular biology there will be thousands of publication channels available at level 1, but only the very few best ones at level 2.

Share of authorship

As a co-author of a publication you receive a share of the publication. If you are one of two authors, your share will be half, and if one of four authors, it will be a quarter. If you are an author with more than one affiliation, your total share is split between the number of affiliations you have listed in the publication. Non-Norwegian institutions and authors are also counted, although they are not part of the Norwegian publication system; any shares awarded to them will effectively be lost.

As introduced in the 2015 revision, the publication share is then multiplied by its square root, giving us a final number to multiply with the points in the tables above to get the final score. An example of the differences between the old and new ways of calculating publication points:

10 authors from institution X, 1 author from institution Y

2010-2014: level 1 journal article:

2015 onwards: level 1 journal article:

After the 2015 revision, each author’s points are not as easy to spot, answering one of the criticisms of the original model: the Norwegian Scientific Index system was too readily available for use in ranking at local institutions. Also, the twist in using square roots means that there is less incentive for adding many co-authors in order to receive most of the points for your institution. The main point of the shift towards using square roots in the calculation is that it effectively helps to even out the number of annual points awarded to the different subjects shown in the table above.

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