Short-Termism in Science: Evidence from the UK Research Excellence Framework
43 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017 Last revised: 17 Jan 2018
Date Written: December 6, 2017
Research evaluations are essential for allocating resources, yet their deadlines can affect scientific output. We document increases in research output quantity – accompanied by decreases in quality – near the time of government-set deadlines for university evaluations. For such evaluations, researchers submit (on average) 35% more papers that were published in the year preceding a deadline than in the year following that deadline. This effect is more pronounced for slower-paced fields, and pre-deadline publications receive (on average) 12% fewer citations. We conclude that evaluation deadlines may reduce the quality of research, highlighting the importance of an appropriate length for evaluation periods.
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