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Performance-based university research funding systems

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  • Hicks, Diana
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    Abstract

    The university research environment has been undergoing profound change in recent decades and performance-based research funding systems (PRFSs) are one of the many novelties introduced. This paper seeks to find general lessons in the accumulated experience with PRFSs that can serve to enrich our understanding of how research policy and innovation systems are evolving. The paper also links the PRFS experience with the public management literature, particularly new public management, and understanding of public sector performance evaluation systems. PRFSs were found to be complex, dynamic systems, balancing peer review and metrics, accommodating differences between fields, and involving lengthy consultation with the academic community and transparency in data and results. Although the importance of PRFSs seems based on their distribution of universities’ research funding, this is something of an illusion, and the literature agrees that it is the competition for prestige created by a PRSF that creates powerful incentives within university systems. The literature suggests that under the right circumstances a PRFS will enhance control by professional elites. PRFSs since they aim for excellence, may compromise other important values such as equity or diversity. They will not serve the goal of enhancing the economic relevance of research.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

    Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 251-261

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:41:y:2012:i:2:p:251-261

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol

    Related research

    Keywords: RAE; ERA; REF; University; Research; Funding;

    References

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    1. Frederic S. Lee, 2007. "The Research Assessment Exercise, the state and the dominance of mainstream economics in British universities," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 31(2), pages 309-325, March.
    2. Butler, Linda, 2003. "Explaining Australia's increased share of ISI publications--the effects of a funding formula based on publication counts," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 143-155, January.
    3. Jimenez-Contreras, Evaristo & de Moya Anegon, Felix & Lopez-Cozar, Emilio Delgado, 2003. "The evolution of research activity in Spain: The impact of the National Commission for the Evaluation of Research Activity (CNEAI)," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 123-142, January.
    4. Luis Sanz-Menéndez, 1995. "Research actors and the state: research evaluation and evaluation of science and technology policies in Spain," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 79-88, April.
    5. Carolyn J. Heinrich & Gerald Marschke, 2010. "Incentives and their dynamics in public sector performance management systems," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(1), pages 183-208.
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    Cited by:
    1. Rebora, Gianfranco & Turri, Matteo, 2013. "The UK and Italian research assessment exercises face to face," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(9), pages 1657-1666.
    2. Bertocchi, Graziella & Gambardella, Alfonso & Jappelli, Tullio & Nappi, Carmela A. & Peracchi, Franco, 2013. "Bibliometric Evaluation vs. Informed Peer Review: Evidence from Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 9724, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Geuna, Aldo & Piolatto, Matteo, 2014. "The Development of Research Assessment in the UK and Italy: Costly and difficult, but probably worth (for a while)," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201405, University of Turin.
    4. Geuna, Aldo & Piolatto, Matteo, 2014. "The Development of Research Assessment in the UK and Italy: Costly and difficult, but probably worth (for a while)"," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201416, University of Turin.
    5. Dalibor Fiala, 2013. "Science Evaluation in the Czech Republic: The Case of Universities," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(3), pages 266-279, June.
    6. Janger, Jürgen & Nowotny, Klaus, 2013. "Career Choices in Academia," Working Papers in Economics and Finance 2013-4, University of Salzburg.
    7. Ruslan Rakhmatullin & Louis Brennan, 2014. "Motivation Behind Researchers’ Participation in Formal Networking Research Projects Funded by the European Union," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 305-329, June.

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