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How Should Research Performance Be Measured? A Study of Swedish Economists




Billions of euros are allocated every year to university research. Increased specialisation and international integration of research and researchers has sharply raised the need for comparisons of performance across fields, institutions and individual researchers. However, there is still no consensus regarding how such rankings should be conducted and what output measures are appropriate to use. We rank all full professors in a particular discipline, economics, in one European nation using seven established, and some of them commonly used, measures of research performance. Our examination shows both that the rank order can vary greatly across measures, and that depending on the measure used the distribution of total research out-put is valued very differently. The renowned KMS measure in economics stands out among the measures analysed here. It exhibits the weakest correlation with the others used in our study. We conclude by giving advice to funding councils and others assessing research quality on how to think about the use of both quantitative and qualitative measures of performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Henrekson, Magnus & Waldenström, Daniel, 2008. "How Should Research Performance Be Measured? A Study of Swedish Economists," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 693, Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0693

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David N. Laband & Robert D. Tollison, 2003. "Dry Holes in Economic Research," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 161-173, May.
    2. Pantelis Kalaitzidakis & Theofanis P. Mamuneas & Thanasis Stengos, 2003. "Rankings of Academic Journals and Institutions in Economics," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(6), pages 1346-1366, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Richard Dusansky & Clayton J. Vernon, 1998. "Rankings of U.S. Economics Departments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 157-170, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:scient:v:101:y:2014:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-014-1379-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Müller, Harry, 2012. "Die Zitationshäufigkeit als Qualitätsindikator im Rahmen der Forschungsleistungsmessung," Discussion Papers of the Institute for Organisational Economics 1/2012, University of Münster, Institute for Organisational Economics.
    3. Rosalind S Hunter, 2009. "The Elite Brain Drain," Working Papers id:2048, eSocialSciences.
    4. Di Vaio, Gianfranco & Waldenström, Daniel & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2012. "Citation success: Evidence from economic history journal publications," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 92-104.
    5. Frances P. Ruane & Richard S.J. Tol, 2007. "Centres of Research Excellence in Economics in the Republic of Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 38(3), pages 289-322.
    6. John Tressler & David L. Anderson, 2012. "Citations as a Measure of the Research Outputs of New Zealand's Economics Departments: The Problem of 'Long and Variable Lags'," Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics, vol. 19(1), pages 17-40.
    7. Matthias Meyer & Rüdiger W. Waldkirch & Michael A. Zaggl, 2012. "Relative Performance Measurement of Researchers: The Impact of Data Source Selection," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 64(4), pages 308-330, October.
    8. Stelios Katranidis & Theodore Panagiotidis & Costas Zontanos, 2014. "An Evaluation Of The Greek Universities’ Economics Departments," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 173-182, April.
    9. David L. Anderson & John Tressler, 2011. "The Merits of Using Citations to Measure Research Output in Economics Departments: The New Zealand Case," Working Papers in Economics 11/11, University of Waikato.
    10. Seiler, Christian & Wohlrabe, Klaus, 2012. "Ranking economists on the basis of many indicators: An alternative approach using RePEc data," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 389-402.
    11. Raquel Carrasco & Javier Ruiz-Castillo, 2014. "The Evolution Of The Scientific Productivity Of Highly Productive Economists," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 1-16, January.
    12. Seyed Reza Mirnezami & Catherine Beaudry, 2016. "The effect of holding a research chair on scientists’ productivity," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 107(2), pages 399-454, May.
    13. David L. Anderson & John Tressler, 2010. "The Merits of Using Citation-Based Journal Weighting Schemes to Measure Research Performance in Economics: The Case of New Zealand," Working Papers in Economics 10/03, University of Waikato.

    More about this item


    Impact of research; Ranking; Research productivity; Bibliometrics; Impact Factor;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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