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Are leading papers of better quality? Evidence from a natural experiment

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  • Tom Coupé
  • Victor Ginsburgh
  • Abdul Noury

Abstract

European countries in which universities rely on public funding increasingly follow the lead of the United Kingdom and run Research Assessment Exercises. Given the subjective nature of such evaluations, some scientists prefer verifiable measures such as citation counts. This, however, also is prone to problems since the number of cites is correlated, among others, with the order of appearance in an issue. In particular, leading papers are more cited. It is, thus, difficult to assess whether they are of better quality, or whether this happens because they appear first in an issue. We make use of a natural experiment that was carried out by a journal in which papers are randomly ordered in some issues, while this order is at the editors' discretion in other issues. Our estimates suggest that approximately two thirds of the additional cites are due to going first, and one third to higher quality. Copyright 2010 Oxford University Press 2009 All rights reserved, Oxford University Press.

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  • Tom Coupé & Victor Ginsburgh & Abdul Noury, 2010. "Are leading papers of better quality? Evidence from a natural experiment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 1-11, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:62:y:2010:i:1:p:1-11
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sofronis Clerides & Panos Pashardes & Alexandros Polycarpou, 2011. "Peer Review vs Metric‐based Assessment: Testing for Bias in the RAE Ratings of UK Economics Departments," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 78(311), pages 565-583, July.
    2. William J. Moore & Robert J. Newman & Peter J. Sloane & Jeremy D. Steely, 2002. "Productivity Effects of Research Assessment Exercises," Departmental Working Papers 2002-15, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    3. Victor A. Ginsburgh & Jan C. van Ours, 2003. "Expert Opinion and Compensation: Evidence from a Musical Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 289-296, March.
    4. Ayres, Ian & Vars, Fredrick E, 2000. "Determinants of Citations to Articles in Elite Law Reviews," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 427-450, January.
    5. Andrew J. Oswald, 2007. "An Examination of the Reliability of Prestigious Scholarly Journals: Evidence and Implications for Decision-Makers," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(293), pages 21-31, February.
    6. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2008. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9787111235767, April.
    7. Scott Smart & Joel Waldfogel, 1996. "A Citation-Based Test for Discrimination at Economics and Finance Journals," NBER Working Papers 5460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. V. Ginsburgh & Sheila Weyers, 2014. "Nominees, winners, and losers," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 38(4), pages 291-313, November.
    2. Novarese, Marco & Wilson, Chris M., 2013. "Being in the Right Place: A Natural Field Experiment on List Position and Consumer Choice," MPRA Paper 48074, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Sultan Orazbayev, 2017. "Diversity and collaboration in Economics," UCL SSEES Economics and Business working paper series 2017-4, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES).
    4. Ho Fai Chan & Bruno S. Frey & Jana Gallus & Benno Torgler, 2013. "Does the John Bates Clark Medal boost subsequent productivity and citation success?," ECON - Working Papers 111, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    5. Carillo, Maria Rosaria & Papagni, Erasmo & Sapio, Alessandro, 2013. "Do collaborations enhance the high-quality output of scientific institutions? Evidence from the Italian Research Assessment Exercise," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 25-36.
    6. repec:eee:infome:v:12:y:2018:i:1:p:74-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:aea:jeclit:v:56:y:2018:i:1:p:115-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Maria Rosaria Carillo & Erasmo Papagni & Alessandro Sapio, 2012. "Do collaborations enhance the high-quality output of scientific institutions? Evidence from the Italian Research Assessment Exercise (2001-2003)," Discussion Papers 4_2012, CRISEI, University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    9. Brooks, Chris & Fenton, Evelyn M. & Walker, James T., 2014. "Gender and the evaluation of research," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 990-1001.
    10. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2018. "Citations in Economics: Measurement, Uses, and Impacts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(1), pages 115-156, March.
    11. Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Can We Test for Bias in Scientific Peer-Review?," IZA Discussion Papers 3665, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Chan, Ho Fai & Frey, Bruno S. & Gallus, Jana & Torgler, Benno, 2014. "Academic honors and performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 188-204.

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