How research evaluations can damage scientific quality: 23 years of evidence from the UK Research Excellence Framework

58 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017 Last revised: 20 Jan 2021

See all articles by Moqi Groen-Xu

Moqi Groen-Xu

Queen Mary University of London

Gregor Boes

King's College London

Pedro A. Teixeira

Free University of Berlin (FUB) - Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science

Thomas Voigt

Independent

Bernhard Knapp

UIC Barcelona; University of Oxford

Date Written: January 6, 2021

Abstract

Periodic research evaluations are necessary to allocate funding, but they also create pressure on researchers. Between grants, short contracts and university assessments, researchers often state that evaluations leave them little time to pursue novel research agendas and publish in more challenging outlets.
Using data on 495,128 publications from the UK’s governmental university assessment, we show that evaluations affect research output. Publications just before assessment deadlines obtain substantially fewer citations and are published in lower impact-factor outlets. These trends reverse abruptly after the deadlines.
Our results highlight the importance of an appropriate length for evaluation periods.

Keywords: Research evaluations, researcher incentives, REF

Suggested Citation

Groen-Xu, Moqi and Boes, Gregor and Teixeira, Pedro Alexandre and Voigt, Thomas and Knapp, Bernhard, How research evaluations can damage scientific quality: 23 years of evidence from the UK Research Excellence Framework (January 6, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3083692 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3083692

Moqi Groen-Xu (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London ( email )

Mile End Road
London, London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

Gregor Boes

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Pedro Alexandre Teixeira

Free University of Berlin (FUB) - Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science ( email )

14195 Berlin
Germany

Thomas Voigt

Independent ( email )

Bernhard Knapp

UIC Barcelona; University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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