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Research assessment and recognized excellence: simple bibliometrics for more efficient academic research evaluations


  • Pierre Régibeau
  • Katharine E. Rockett


Many countries perform research assessment of universities, although the methods differ widely. Significant resources are invested in these exercises. Moving to a more mechanical, metrics-based system could therefore create very significant savings. We evaluate a set of simple, readily accessible metrics by comparing real Economics departments to three possible benchmarks of research excellence: a fictitious department composed exclusively of former Nobel Prize winners, actual world-leading departments, and reputation-based rankings of real departments. We examine two types of metrics: publications weighted by the quality of the outlet and citations received. The publication-based metric performs better at distinguishing the benchmarks if it requires at least four publications over a six year period and allows for a top rate for a very small set of elite reviews. Cumulative citations received over two six-year review periods appear to be somewhat more consistent with our three benchmarks than within-period citations, although within-period citations still distinguish quality. We propose a simple evaluation process relying on a composite index with a journal-based and a citations-based component. We also provide rough estimates of the cost: assuming that all fields of research would be amenable to a similar approach, we obtain a total cost of about £12M per review period.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Régibeau & Katharine E. Rockett, 2016. "Research assessment and recognized excellence: simple bibliometrics for more efficient academic research evaluations," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 31(88), pages 611-652.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecpoli:v:31:y:2016:i:88:p:611-652.

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    Cited by:

    1. Battistin, Erich & Ovidi, Marco, 2017. "Rising Stars," IZA Discussion Papers 11198, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Bagues, Manuel & Sylos-Labini, Mauro & Zinovyeva, Natalia, 2017. "A Walk on the Wild Side: `Predatory' Journals and Information Asymmetries in Scientific Evaluations," CEPR Discussion Papers 12309, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item


    H4; I23; L51; O38;

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy


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