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On the Evaluation of Economic Research: The Case of Italy

  • Corsi Marcella
  • D'Ippoliti Carlo
  • Lucidi Federico

The Italian case can be considered as an internationally relevant example to suggest a critical reflection on the evaluation criteria adopted in research assessment exercises, pointing at the need of clear and shared guidelines based on transparency and accountability and aiming at preserving (or even encouraging) the pluralism of ideas. Our findings support the view that if research institutions are encouraged to engage only in those lines of research that are likely to receive the highest rating according to the adopted evaluation criteria, a convergence process is to be expected within Economics, resulting in a disregard of heterodox schools and historical methods in favour of mainstream approaches and quantitative methods. In our view, a proper fine-tuning of the assessment methodology is needed, before subsequent rankings can be used as a guide for the allocation of public financing among research institutions. In the case of Economics, this means overcoming the limits of commonly adopted peer review approaches, through the development of proper evaluation designs and the integration of qualitative appraisals with quantitative indicators. In order to preserve pluralism and originality of research, we propose a simple quantitative index based on field-normalization.

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Article provided by Società editrice il Mulino in its journal Economia politica.

Volume (Year): (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 369-402

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Handle: RePEc:mul:jb33yl:doi:10.1428/35915:y:2011:i:3:p:369-402
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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. Bruno S. Frey & Margit Osterloh, 2006. "Evaluations: Hidden Costs, Questionable Benefits, and Superior Alternatives," CREMA Working Paper Series 2006-23, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA), revised Oct 2006.
  3. Silvia Ferrini, 2007. "L’Impact Factor: luci e ombre," Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID) University of Siena 002, Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID), University of Siena.
  4. Michel Lubrano & Luc Bauwens & Alan Kirman & Camelia Protopopescu, 2003. "Ranking Economics Departments in Europe: A Statistical Approach," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(6), pages 1367-1401, December.
  5. Hodgson, Geoffrey M & Rothman, Harry, 1999. "The Editors and Authors of Economics Journals: A Case of Institutional Oligopoly?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages F165-86, February.
  6. Marcella Corsi & Carlo D'Ippoliti & Federico Lucidi, 2010. "Pluralism at Risk?," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(5), pages 1495-1529, November.
  7. David Colander, 2010. "Can European Economics Compete with U.S. Economics? And Should It?," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 1039, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  8. Kalaitzidakis, Pantelis & Mamuneas, Theofanis P. & Stengos, Thanasis, 1999. "European economics: An analysis based on publications in the core journals," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 1150-1168, April.
  9. Oswald, Andrew J., 2006. "An Examination of the Reliability of Prestigious Scholarly Journals: Evidence and Implications for Decision-makers," IZA Discussion Papers 2070, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Pasinetti Luigi & Roncaglia Alessandro, 2006. "Le scienze umane in Italia: il caso dell'economia politica," Rivista italiana degli economisti, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3, pages 463.
  11. S. Redner, 1998. "How popular is your paper? An empirical study of the citation distribution," The European Physical Journal B - Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 131-134, July.
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