Academics in Hong Kong universities are urged to increase their research output. This article investigates the measurement of publication outputs among the three faculties of business, education, humanities & social sciences in the six universities of Hong Kong. Data were collected from the 1990–95 annual reports of research and publication outputs of each university. In order to have a fair comparison of publication outputs of each academic, rank, faculty and university, a framework was developed from practical experience and from literature to investigate the problem. Results indicate that the publication outputs of academics in Hong Kong were about the same as other countries in many aspects. Pressing academics for more research publications may raise the figure in the start, but would not necessarily increase the output in the long run. Copyright © 1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers.