As citation-based metrics are increasingly used for measuring research performance, the formation of academics’ research choices and conceptions of academic freedom are affected. Critically examining the behaviours of academics in today’s competitive publishing landscape, we argue that creeping managerial practices are shaping research choices and perceived opportunities. In addition, observation indicates that the way in which academic freedom is conceptualised is changing as a result of considering academic performance through metrics. This raises questions of whether and to what extent professional and academic autonomy remains in the hands of authors or are instead being outsourced to metrics. Based on 21 semi-structured interviews with academics across the humanities and social sciences, we found metrics relating to assessment, rankings and funding all direct research choices. This research-in-progress paper identifies key issues and outlines future research to understand the wider influence of metrification.