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The New Zealand Performance Based Research Fund and its Impact on Publication Activity in Economics


  • David L. Anderson

    () (Queen's University)

  • John Tressler

    () (University of Waikato)


New Zealand’s academic research assessment scheme, the Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF), was launched in 2002 with the stated objective of increasing research quality in the nation’s universities. Evaluation rounds were conducted in 2003, 2006 and 2012. In this paper, we employ 22 different journal weighting schemes to generate output estimates of refereed journal paper and page production over three six year periods (1994-1999; 2000-2005 and 2006-2011). These time periods reflect a pre-PBRF environment, a mixed assessment period, and a pure PBRF research environment, respectively. Our findings indicate that, on average, research productivity, defined in either paper or page terms, has increased since the introduction of the PBRF. However, this outcome is due to a major increase in the quantity of papers and pages produced per capita that has more than off-set a decline in the quality of published outputs since the introduction of the PBRF. In other words, our findings suggest that the PBRF has failed to achieve its stated goal of increasing average research quality, but it has resulted in substantial gains in productivity achieved via large increases in the quantity of refereed journal articles.

Suggested Citation

  • David L. Anderson & John Tressler, 2013. "The New Zealand Performance Based Research Fund and its Impact on Publication Activity in Economics," Working Papers in Economics 13/03, University of Waikato.
  • Handle: RePEc:wai:econwp:13/03

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pantelis Kalaitzidakis & Theofanis P. Mamuneas & Thanasis Stengos, 2011. "An updated ranking of academic journals in economics," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1525-1538, November.
    2. Clive Beed & Cara Beed, 1996. "Measuring the Quality of Academic Journals: The Case of Economics," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 369-396, March.
    3. David L. Anderson & John Tressler, 2013. "The Relevance of the “h-” and “g-” Index to Economics in the Context of A Nation-Wide Research Evaluation Scheme: The New Zealand Case," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(1), pages 81-94, March.
    4. Laband, David N & Piette, Michael J, 1994. "The Relative Impacts of Economics Journals: 1970-1990," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 640-666, June.
    5. David L. Anderson & Warren Smart & John Tressler, 2013. "Evaluating research -- peer review team assessment and journal based bibliographic measures: New Zealand PBRF research output scores in 2006," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(2), pages 140-157, August.
    6. Liebowitz, S J & Palmer, J P, 1984. "Assessing the Relative Impacts of Economic Journals," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 77-88, March.
    7. John Gibson, 2000. "Research productivity in New Zealand university economics departments: Comment and update," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(1), pages 73-87.
    8. John Gibson & John Tressler & David L. Anderson, 2008. "Do Research Assessment Exercises Raise the Returns to Publication Quality? Evidence from the New Zealand Market for Academic Economists," Working Papers in Economics 08/11, University of Waikato.
    9. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Laurent Linnemer, 2010. "Inferring Missing Citations: A Quantitative Multi-Criteria Ranking of all Journals in Economics," Working Papers halshs-00520325, HAL.
    10. David L. Anderson & John Tressler, 2008. "Research Output in New Zealand Economics Department 2000-2006," Working Papers in Economics 08/05, University of Waikato.
    11. Joseph Macri & Dipendra Sinha, 2006. "Rankings Methodology for International Comparisons of Institutions and Individuals: an Application to Economics in Australia and New Zealand," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 111-156, February.
    12. Tom Coupé, 2003. "Revealed Performances: Worldwide Rankings of Economists and Economics Departments, 1990-2000," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(6), pages 1309-1345, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephan B. Bruns & David I. Stern, 2016. "Research assessment using early citation information," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 108(2), pages 917-935, August.
    2. Buckle, Robert A & Creedy, John, 2017. "The Evolution of Research Quality in New Zealand Universities as Measured by the Performance-Based Research Fund Process," Working Paper Series 6574, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.

    More about this item


    research measurement; PBRF; research quality; research assessment exercises;

    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
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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