Assessing the scientific significance of fossil sites has up to now been largely a matter of subjective opinion with few or no metrics being employed. By applying similar metrics used for assessing academic performance, both qualitative and quantitative, to fossil sites we gain a real indication of their significance that enables direct comparison with other sites both nationally and globally. Indices suggested are those using total pages published for both peer-reviewed and combined peer-reviewed and popular publications, total citations from the papers, total impact points for site (citing palaeontology-related papers only), total number of very high impact papers (VHIP; journal impact factor>30) and social media metrics. These provide a measure of how much the published fossil data from a site has been utilised. The Late Devonian fossils of the Gogo Formation of Western Australia are here used as an example of how these metrics can be applied. The Gogo sites for example, have produced c.4384 pages of peer-reviewed papers (c.5458 total combined with popular works); generated papers with a total impact point score of 611, including 10 VHI papers, and generated 4009 citations. The sites have an overall h-index of 33. Combing these into a Scientific Site Significance Index (SSSI) will permit direct comparisons of site significance to be made for initiating discussions about site protection, tourism, geopark status, local heritage listings or potential future world heritage nominations.
- Natural heritage