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Evaluation of researchers : a life cycle analysis of German academic economists

  • Michael Rauber


    (Department of Economics, University of Konstanz)

  • Heinrich Ursprung


    (Department of Economics, University of Konstanz)

In this paper we ague that any meaningful bibliometric evaluation of researchers needs to take into account that research productivity follows distinct life cycles. Using an encompassing data set portraying the research behavior of German academic economists, we first show that research productivity crucially depends on career age and vintage. Based on the identified effects, we develop a simple formula that shows how a researcher's performance compares to that of his or her peers. This kind of information may serve as an input for performance-related remuneration and track-record based allocation of research grants. We then go on to investigate the persistence of individual productivity. The Persistence issue is of special importance in the academic labor market because of the irrevocable nature of tenure. Finally, we show how life cycle considerations can be used in evaluations of university departments in order to render the resulting rankings insensitive to the age structure of the evaluated faculties.

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Paper provided by Research Group Heterogeneous Labor, University of Konstanz/ZEW Mannheim in its series Working Papers of the Research Group Heterogenous Labor with number 06-08.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:knz:hetero:0608
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  1. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Laurent Linnemer, 2003. "Where are the Economists Who Publish? Publication Concentration and Rankings in Europe Based on Cumulative Publications," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(6), pages 1250-1308, December.
  2. Frank, Bjorn & Schulze, Gunther G., 2000. "Does economics make citizens corrupt?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 101-113, September.
  3. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Mairesse, Jacques & Turner, Laure, 2006. "Identifying Age, Cohort and Period Effects in Scientific Research Productivity - Discussion and Illustration Using Simulated and Actual Data on French Physicists," MERIT Working Papers 042, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  4. 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.
  5. Moore, William J & Newman, Robert J & Turnbull, Geoffrey K, 2001. "Reputational Capital and Academic Pay," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(4), pages 663-71, October.
  6. Michael Rauber & Heinrich W. Ursprung, 2008. "Life Cycle and Cohort Productivity in Economic Research: The Case of Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9, pages 431-456, November.
  7. Levin, Sharon G & Stephan, Paula E, 1991. "Research Productivity over the Life Cycle: Evidence for Academic Scientists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 114-32, March.
  8. Tom Coupé & Valérie Smeets & Frédéric Warzynski, 2006. "Incentives, Sorting and Productivity along the Career: Evidence from a Sample of Top Economists," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 137-167, April.
  9. Bell, John G & Seater, John J, 1978. "Publishing Performance: Departmental and Individual," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(4), pages 599-615, October.
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