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Indicators on individual higher education institutions: addressing data problems and comparability issues


  • Andrea Bonaccorsi
  • Cinzia Daraio
  • Benedetto Lepori
  • Stig Slipersæter


Higher education institutions (HEIs) are crucial to the development of the European Research Area. However, unlike in the USA, the availability of quantitative indicators for individual HEI at the European level is severely limited by several methodological issues, data availability problems and national institutional constraints. The paper discusses strategies for collecting and validating data from different national sources; the limitations of the available data for different categories of indicators and, finally, the influence of the heterogeneity of the national HEIs on comparability at the European level. Based on the experience of two recently completed projects, the paper shows that, despite these problems, it is possible to collect relatively coherent data on European HEIs and to develop a set of consequential indicators. Further, it provides advice on how to exploit them for comparative purposes in a sensible way. It concludes by indicating areas where major improvements are urgently needed, and advocates a European S&T Indicators Platform to maintain and develop these data sets long term. Copyright , Beech Tree Publishing.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Bonaccorsi & Cinzia Daraio & Benedetto Lepori & Stig Slipersæter, 2007. "Indicators on individual higher education institutions: addressing data problems and comparability issues," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 66-78, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rseval:v:16:y:2007:i:2:p:66-78

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Saragossi, Sarina & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno, 2003. "What Patent Data Reveal about Universities: The Case of Belgium," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 47-51, January.
    2. Saul Lach & Mark Schankerman, 2008. "Incentives and invention in universities," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 403-433.
    3. Rebecca Henderson & Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1998. "Universities As A Source Of Commercial Technology: A Detailed Analysis Of University Patenting, 1965-1988," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 119-127, February.
    4. Goldfarb, Brent & Henrekson, Magnus, 2003. "Bottom-up versus top-down policies towards the commercialization of university intellectual property," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 639-658, April.
    5. Geuna, Aldo & Nesta, Lionel J.J., 2006. "University patenting and its effects on academic research: The emerging European evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 790-807, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Benedetto Lepori & Emanuela Reale & Stig Slipersaeter, 2011. "The Construction of New Indicators for Science and Innovation Policies: The Case of Project Funding Indicators," Chapters,in: Science and Innovation Policy for the New Knowledge Economy, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. repec:spr:scient:v:105:y:2015:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-015-1768-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Andreas Niederl & Andrea Bonaccorsi & Benedetto Lepori & Tasso Brandt & Daniela De Filippo & Ulrich Schmoch, 2014. "Mapping the European higher education landscape: new insights from the EUMIDA project," Chapters,in: Knowledge, Diversity and Performance in European Higher Education, chapter 1, pages iii-iii Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Gonzalo Rodríguez-Pérez & Immaculada Vilardell Riera, 2014. "Estrategias de especialización, diversificación y diferenciación en el sistema universitario español," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 9,in: Adela García Aracil & Isabel Neira Gómez (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 9, edition 1, volume 9, chapter 8, pages 187-203 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    5. repec:spr:scient:v:74:y:2008:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-008-0101-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Benedetto, Lepori & Geuna, Aldo & Veglio, Valerio, 2017. "A Typology of European Universities. Differentiation and resource distribution," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201702, University of Turin.
    7. Simen G. Enger, 2017. "Closed clubs: Cumulative advantages and participation in Horizon 2020," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20170703, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
    8. 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, vol. 40(1), pages 148-164, February.
    9. Marco Seeber & Benedetto Lepori, 2014. "The internationalization of European higher education institutions," Chapters,in: Knowledge, Diversity and Performance in European Higher Education, chapter 5, pages iii-iii Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Lepori, B. & Seeber, M. & Bonaccorsi, A., 2015. "Competition for talent. Country and organizational-level effects in the internationalization of European higher education institutions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 789-802.
    11. Benedetto Lepori & Aldo Geuna & Valerio Veglio, 2017. "A Typology of European Research Universities. Differentiation, Layering and Resource Distribution," SPRU Working Paper Series 2017-01, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    12. Davinia Palomares-Montero & Adela García-Aracil, 2011. "Utilización de indicadores para la evaluación de las universidades públicas españolas: ¿existe consenso?," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 6,in: Antonio Caparrós Ruiz (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 6, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 28, pages 460-473 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    13. Torben Schubert & Andrea Bonaccorsi & Tasso Brandt & Daniela De Filippo & Benedetto Lepori & Andreas Niederl, 2014. "Is there a European university model? New evidence on national path dependence and structural convergence," Chapters,in: Knowledge, Diversity and Performance in European Higher Education, chapter 2, pages iii-iii Edward Elgar Publishing.

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