This is the main point of a nice Editorial, Assessing Academic Researchers that just appeared in Angewandte Chemie by Richard Zare. He points out that this is the main criteria that is used to decide whether or not Assistant Professors in Chemistry at Stanford get tenure.
We do not look into how much funding the candidate has brought to the university in the form of grants. We do not count the number of published papers; we also do not rank publications according to authorship order. We do not use some elaborate algorithm that weighs publications in journals according to the impact factor of the journal. We seldom discuss h-index metrics, which aim to measure the impact of a researcher’s publications. We simply ask outside experts, as well as our tenured faculty members, whether a candidate has significantly changed how we understand chemistry.I thank Seth Olsen for bringing the article to my attention.