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Appraisal of Research Infrastructures: Approaches, methods and practical implications


  • Chiara PANCOTTI




  • Silvia VIGNETTI



Reflecting the growing importance taken by research infrastructures (RIs) and especially large ones (“Big Science”), there is increasing concern about the way these are selected for public funding and appraised, an issue that takes a specific relevance in the context of the current public spending constraint. The objective of this paper is to review international practices in RI projects selection and appraisal. In particular it accounts for the development of new evaluation approaches and tools mobilising quantitative and systematic methods that illustrate a shift away from traditional methods relying on peer review. It finds that “roadmaps” or systematic strategic planning of RIs make increasing recourse to quantitative indicators besides the “science case”. Also, even if still rare, there are examples of RIs selection processes based on a comparison of costs and benefits, as well as comprehensive approaches resorting to quantitative indicators adopted to monitor and assess RIs. In this context, cost benefit analysis emerges as a promising decision-making tool which needs however tailored techniques to account for the specificities of socio-economic benefits generated by RIs.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiara PANCOTTI & Julie PELLEGRIN & Silvia VIGNETTI, 2014. "Appraisal of Research Infrastructures: Approaches, methods and practical implications," Departmental Working Papers 2014-13, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2014-13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A. Heher, 2006. "Return on Investment in Innovation: Implications for Institutions and National Agencies," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 403-414, July.
    2. Link, Albert, 2018. "The Theory and Practice of Program Evaluation," UNCG Economics Working Papers 18-3, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
    3. Ghislaine Tremblay & Sandra Zohar & Juliana Bravo & Peter Potsepp & Meg Barker, 2010. "The Canada Foundation for Innovation's outcome measurement study: a pioneering approach to research evaluation," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(5), pages 333-345, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Massimo FLORIO & Emanuela SIRTORI, 2014. "The Evaluation of Research Infrastructures: a Cost-Benefit Analysis Framework," Departmental Working Papers 2014-10, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.

    More about this item


    Research infrastructures; Cost-benefit analysis; Externalities; Public good; Knowledge;

    JEL classification:

    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • O22 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Project Analysis


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