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Do Rankings Reflect Research Quality?

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Katja Rost

Abstract

Publication and citation rankings have become major indicators of the scientific worth of universities and countries, and determine to a large extent the career of individual scholars. We argue that such rankings do not effectively measure research quality, which should be the essence of evaluation. For that reason, an alternative ranking is developed as a quality indicator, based on membership on academic editorial boards of professional journals. It turns out that especially the ranking of individual scholars is far from objective. The results differ markedly, depending on whether research quantity or research quality is considered. Even quantity rankings are not objective; two citation rankings, based on different samples, produce entirely different results. It follows that any career decisions based on rankings are dominated by chance and do not reflect research quality. Instead of propagating a ranking based on board membership as the gold standard, we suggest that committees make use of this quality indicator to find members who, in turn, evaluate the research quality of individual scholars.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 390.

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Date of creation: Oct 2008
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:390

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Keywords: Rankings; Universities; Scholars; Publications; Citations;

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  1. Arthur M. Diamond Jr., 1986. "What is a Citation Worth?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(2), pages 200-215.
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  8. Alberto Baccini & Lucio Barabesi, 2008. "Interlocking Editorship. A Network Analysis of the Links Between Economic Journals," Department of Economics University of Siena, Department of Economics, University of Siena 532, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
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Cited by:
  1. Daraio, Cinzia & Bonaccorsi, Andrea & Geuna, Aldo & Lepori, Benedetto & Bach, Laurent & Bogetoft, Peter & F. Cardoso, Margarida & Castro-Martinez, Elena & Crespi, Gustavo & de Lucio, Ignacio Fernandez, 2011. "The European university landscape: A micro characterization based on evidence from the Aquameth project," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 148-164, February.
  2. Matthias Meyer & Rüdiger W. Waldkirch & Michael A. Zaggl, 2012. "Relative Performance Measurement of Researchers: The Impact of Data Source Selection," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 64(4), pages 308-330, October.
  3. Thum, Anna-Elisabeth & Roth,Felix, 2010. "The Key Role of Education in the Europe 2020 Strategy," CEPS Papers, Centre for European Policy Studies 3827, Centre for European Policy Studies.
  4. Sönke Albers, 2009. "Misleading Rankings of Research in Business," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10, pages 352-363, 08.
  5. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2011. "Kaderschmieden der Wirtschaft und/oder Universitäten? Der Auftrag der Wirtschaftsuniversitäten und –fakultäten im 21. Jahrhundert," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(3), pages 317-337, 08.
  6. Michael Berlemann & Justus Haucap, 2012. "Which Factors Drive the Decision to Boycott and Opt Out of Research Rankings?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3997, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Roger Fouquet, 2012. "Economics of Energy and Climate Change: Origins, Developments and Growth," Working Papers, BC3 2012-08, BC3.
  8. Michael Bräuninger & Justus Haucap & Johannes Muck, 2011. "Was lesen und schätzen deutschsprachige Ökonomen heute?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(4), pages 339-371, November.
  9. Katja Rost & Bruno S. Frey, 2011. "Quantitative and Qualitative Rankings of Scholars," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 63(1), pages 63-91, January.
  10. Müller, Harry, 2012. "Die Zitationshäufigkeit als Qualitätsindikator im Rahmen der Forschungsleistungsmessung," Discussion Papers of the Institute for Organisational Economics 1/2012, University of Münster, Institute for Organisational Economics.
  11. Albers, Sönke, 2008. "Three Failed Attempts of Joint Rankings of Research in Economics and Business," MPRA Paper 12868, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 16 Jan 2009.
  12. Monacciani, Fabiana, 2010. "University departments evaluation: a multivariate approach," MPRA Paper 24224, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Martin Eisend, 2011. "Is VHB-JOURQUAL2 a Good Measure of Scientific Quality? Assessing the Validity of the Major Business Journal Ranking in German-Speaking Countries," BuR - Business Research, German Academic Association for Business Research, German Academic Association for Business Research, vol. 4(2), pages 241-274, December.
  14. Bräuninger, Michael & Haucap, Justus & Muck, Johannes, 2011. "Was lesen und schätzen Ökonomen im Jahr 2011?," DICE Ordnungspolitische Perspektiven 18, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  15. Karol Paludkiewicz & Klaus Wohlrabe, 2010. "Qualitätsanalyse von Zeitschriften in den Wirtschaftswissenschaften – über Zitationsdatenbanken und Impaktfaktoren im Online-Zeitalter," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 63(21), pages 18-28, November.
  16. Rost, Katja, 2011. "The strength of strong ties in the creation of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 588-604, May.

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