IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The first Italian research assessment exercise: A bibliometric perspective


  • Franceschet, Massimo
  • Costantini, Antonio


In December 2003, seventeen years after the first UK research assessment exercise, Italy started up its first-ever national research evaluation, with the aim to evaluate, using the peer review method, the excellence of the national research production. The evaluation involved 20 disciplinary areas, 102 research structures, 18,500 research products and 6661 peer reviewers (1465 from abroad); it had a direct cost of 3.55 millions Euros and a time length spanning over 18 months. The introduction of ratings based on ex post quality of output and not on ex ante respect for parameters and compliance is an important leap forward of the national research evaluation system toward meritocracy. From the bibliometric perspective, the national assessment offered the unprecedented opportunity to perform a large-scale comparison of peer review and bibliometric indicators for an important share of the Italian research production. The present investigation takes full advantage of this opportunity to test whether peer review judgements and (article and journal) bibliometric indicators are independent variables and, in the negative case, to measure the sign and strength of the association. Outcomes allow us to advocate the use of bibliometric evaluation, suitably integrated with expert review, for the forthcoming national assessment exercises, with the goal of shifting from the assessment of research excellence to the evaluation of average research performance without significant increase of expenses.

Suggested Citation

  • Franceschet, Massimo & Costantini, Antonio, 2011. "The first Italian research assessment exercise: A bibliometric perspective," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 275-291.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:infome:v:5:y:2011:i:2:p:275-291
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joi.2010.12.002

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Linda Butler & Ian McAllister, 2009. "Metrics or Peer Review? Evaluating the 2001 UK Research Assessment Exercise in Political Science," Political Studies Review, Political Studies Association, vol. 7(1), pages 3-17, January.
    2. Benjamin M. Althouse & Jevin D. West & Carl T. Bergstrom & Theodore Bergstrom, 2009. "Differences in impact factor across fields and over time," Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 60(1), pages 27-34, January.
    3. Martin, Ben R. & Irvine, John, 1993. "Assessing basic research : Some partial indicators of scientific progress in radio astronomy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 106-106, April.
    4. Franceschet, Massimo, 2010. "The difference between popularity and prestige in the sciences and in the social sciences: A bibliometric analysis," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 55-63.
    5. Eliana Minelli & Gianfranco Rebora & Matteo Turri, 2008. "The Structure and Significance of the Italian Research Assessment Exercise (VTR)," Chapters, in: Carmelo Mazza & Paolo Quattrone & Angelo Riccaboni (ed.), European Universities in Transition, chapter 12, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Rinia, E. J. & van Leeuwen, Th. N. & van Vuren, H. G. & van Raan, A. F. J., 1998. "Comparative analysis of a set of bibliometric indicators and central peer review criteria: Evaluation of condensed matter physics in the Netherlands," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 95-107, May.
    7. Abramo, Giovanni & D'Angelo, Ciriaco Andrea & Caprasecca, Alessandro, 2009. "Allocative efficiency in public research funding: Can bibliometrics help?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 206-215, February.
    8. Franceschet, Massimo & Costantini, Antonio, 2010. "The effect of scholar collaboration on impact and quality of academic papers," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 540-553.
    9. Alonso, S. & Cabrerizo, F.J. & Herrera-Viedma, E. & Herrera, F., 2009. "h-Index: A review focused in its variants, computation and standardization for different scientific fields," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 273-289.
    10. Dag W Aksnes & Randi Elisabeth Taxt, 2004. "Peer reviews and bibliometric indicators: a comparative study at a Norwegian university," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 33-41, April.
    11. Emanuela Reale & Anna Barbara & Antonio Costantini, 2007. "Peer review for the evaluation of academic research: lessons from the Italian experience," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 216-228, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Research assessment; Peer review; Bibliometrics;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:infome:v:5:y:2011:i:2:p:275-291. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.