One of the pleasures of editing Theatre Research International is the opportunity to engage with scholars from different parts of the world about their research. In the past year or so, I have visited several universities in South East Asia, finding out about the practices and ideas people are investigating, and how they are doing it. In the process, I have been struck by the alacrity with which ambitious universities in the fast-developing economies of the region – and, I suspect, elsewhere in the world – are embracing the metrics and other criteria required for success in global university rankings exercises. The legitimation, prestige and increased attractiveness to talented staff and students that a good showing in such exercises can bring is presumably an important reason why governments and university administrations see participation as an efficient use of limited resources. However, as anyone with direct experience of rankings-motivated institutional change will be aware, the practical results can be highly disruptive, and their cost can fall disproportionately upon arts and humanities researchers, so much of whose activity remains resistant to easy quantification.