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  • Author or Editor: Giovanni Abramo x
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Abstract

National research assessment exercises are becoming regular events in ever more countries. The present work contrasts the peer-review and bibliometrics approaches in the conduct of these exercises. The comparison is conducted in terms of the essential parameters of any measurement system: accuracy, robustness, validity, functionality, time and costs. Empirical evidence shows that for the natural and formal sciences, the bibliometric methodology is by far preferable to peer-review. Setting up national databases of publications by individual authors, derived from Web of Science or Scopus databases, would allow much better, cheaper and more frequent national research assessments.

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Abstract

There is an evident and rapid trend towards the adoption of evaluation exercises for national research systems for purposes, among others, of improving allocative efficiency in public funding of individual institutions. However the desired macroeconomic aims could be compromised if internal redistribution of government resources within each research institution does not follow a consistent logic: the intended effects of national evaluation systems can result only if a “funds for quality” rule is followed at all levels of decision-making. The objective of this study is to propose a bibliometric methodology for: (i) large-scale comparative evaluation of research performance by individual scientists, research groups and departments within research institution, to inform selective funding allocations; and (ii) assessment of strengths and weaknesses by field of research, to inform strategic planning and control. The proposed methodology has been applied to the hard science disciplines of the Italian university research system for the period 2004–2006.

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Abstract

An increasing number of nations allocate public funds to research institutions on the basis of rankings obtained from national evaluation exercises. Therefore, in non-competitive higher education systems where top scientists are dispersed among all the universities, rather than concentrated among a few, there is a high risk of penalizing those top scientists who work in lower-performance universities. Using a 5 year bibliometric analysis conducted on all Italian universities active in the hard sciences from 2004 to 2008, this work analyzes the distribution of publications and relevant citations by scientists within the universities, measures the research performance of individual scientists, quantifies the intensity of concentration of top scientists at each university, provides performance rankings for the universities, and indicates the effects of selective funding on the top scientists of low-ranked universities.

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Abstract

Policy makers, at various levels of governance, generally encourage the development of research collaboration. However the underlying determinants of collaboration are not completely clear. In particular, the literature lacks studies that, taking the individual researcher as the unit of analysis, attempt to understand if and to what extent the researcher's scientific performance might impact on his/her degree of collaboration with foreign colleagues. The current work examines the international collaborations of Italian university researchers for the period 2001–2005, and puts them in relation to each individual's research performance. The results of the investigation, which assumes co-authorship as proxy of research collaboration, show that both research productivity and average quality of output have positive effects on the degree of international collaboration achieved by a scientist.

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Abstract  

This paper presents a methodology for measuring the technical efficiency of research activities. It is based on the application of data envelopment analysis to bibliometric data on the Italian university system. For that purpose, different input values (research personnel by level and extra funding) and output values (quantity, quality and level of contribution to actual scientific publications) are considered. Our study aims at overcoming some of the limitations connected to the methodologies that have so far been proposed in the literature, in particular by surveying the scientific production of universities by authors’ name.

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Abstract  

The literature dedicated to the analysis of the difference in research productivity between the sexes tends to agree in indicating better performance for men. Through bibliometric examination of the entire population of research personnel working in the scientific-technological disciplines of Italian university system, this study confirms the presence of significant differences in productivity between men and women. The differences are, however, smaller than reported in a large part of the literature, confirming an ongoing tendency towards decline, and are also seen as more noticeable for quantitative performance indicators than other indicators. The gap between the sexes shows significant sectorial differences. In spite of the generally better performance of men, there are scientific sectors in which the performance of women does not prove to be inferior.

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Abstract

The study presents a time-series analysis of field-standardized average impact of Italian research compared to the world average. The approach is purely bibliometric, based on census of the full scientific production from all Italian public research organizations active in 2001–2006 (hard sciences only). The analysis is conducted both at sectorial level (aggregated, by scientific discipline and for single fields within disciplines) and at organizational level (by type of organization and for single organizations). The essence of the methodology should be replicable in all other national contexts. Its offers support to policy-makers and administrators for strategic analysis aimed at identifying strengths and weaknesses of national research systems and institutions.

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Abstract  

In national research assessment exercises that take the peer review approach, research organizations are evaluated on the basis of a subset of their scientific production. The dimension of the subset varies from nation to nation but is typically set as a proportional function of the number of researchers employed at each research organization. However, scientific fertility varies from discipline to discipline, meaning that the representativeness of such a subset also varies according to discipline. The rankings resulting from the assessments could be quite sensitive to the size of the share of articles selected for evaluation. The current work examines this issue, developing empirical evidence of variations in ranking due changes in the dimension of the subset of products evaluated. The field of observation is represented by the scientific production from the hard sciences of the entire Italian university system, from 2001 to 2003.

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Abstract  

Measuring the efficiency of scientific research activity presents critical methodological aspects, many of which have not been sufficiently studied. Although many studies have assessed the relation between quality and research productivity and academic rank, not much is known about the extent of distortion in national university performance rankings when academic rank and the other labor factors are not considered as a factor of normalization. This work presents a comparative analysis that aims to quantify the sensitivity of bibliometric rankings to the choice of input, with input considered as only the number of researchers on staff, or alternatively where their cost is also considered. The field of observation consists of all 69 Italian universities active in the hard sciences. Performance measures are based on the 81,000 publications produced during the 2004–2006 triennium by all 34,000 research staff, with analysis carried out at the level of individual disciplines, 187 in total. The effect of the switch from labor to cost seems to be minimal except for a few outliers.

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Abstract  

In recent years bibliometricians have paid increasing attention to research evaluation methodological problems, among these being the choice of the most appropriate indicators for evaluating quality of scientific publications, and thus for evaluating the work of single scientists, research groups and entire organizations. Much literature has been devoted to analyzing the robustness of various indicators, and many works warn against the risks of using easily available and relatively simple proxies, such as journal impact factor. The present work continues this line of research, examining whether it is valid that the use of the impact factor should always be avoided in favour of citations, or whether the use of impact factor could be acceptable, even preferable, in certain circumstances. The evaluation was conducted by observing all scientific publications in the hard sciences by Italian universities, for the period 2004–2007. Performance sensitivity analyses were conducted with changing indicators of quality and years of observation.

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