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

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  • COUPE, Tom
  • GINSBURGH, Victor
  • NOURY, Abdul

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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Suggested Citation

  • COUPE, Tom & GINSBURGH, Victor & NOURY, Abdul, 2010. "Are leading papers of better quality? Evidence from a natural experiment," LIDAM Reprints CORE 2221, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvrp:2221
    DOI: 10.1093/oep/gpp019
    Note: In : Oxford Economic Papers, 62(1), 1-11, 2010
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oep/gpp019
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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.
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    1. Lead papers are not particularly better
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-03-09 17:21:00

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