nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2009‒10‒10
three papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. Does the Journal Impact Factor help make a Good Indicator of Academic Performance? By Mishra, SK
  2. Multi-Tasking vs. Screening: A Model of Academic Tenure By Kou, Zonglai; Zhou, Min
  3. The Americanization of European Higher Education and Research By Borghans, Lex; Cörvers, Frank

  1. By: Mishra, SK
    Abstract: After the notification of the University Grants Commission (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) Regulations, 2009 on September 23rd 2009, publication of research papers/articles in reputed journals has become an important factor in assessment of the academic performance of teachers in colleges and universities in India. One of the measures of reputation and academic standard (rank or importance) of a journal is the so-called ‘Impact Factor.’ This study makes a detailed analysis of Journal Impact Factors across the disciplines. It finds that if journal impact factor is used to assess the academic performance of individuals (for the purpose of selection, promotion, etc) and it is not borne in mind that due to vast differences in the nature of distribution of impact factors across the disciplines they are not justifiably comparable, a below average scholar in the one discipline (wherein the journal impact factor is negatively skewed) will rank higher and will be honored (and benefitted) more than another scholar in some other discipline (wherein the journal impact factor is positively skewed). It may be noted that in the university departments there are specializations with low impact factor journals and other specializations with very high impact factor journals. But the teachers/researchers of different specializations in the departments compete with each other for promotion. Whether the researchers with an unfortunate specialization (wherein the journal impact factor is positively skewed) receive justice on such criteria remains an open question.
    Keywords: Journal impact factor; University Grants Commission; regulation; India; UGC; Higher education; academic performance indicator; API; skewness
    JEL: A23 I23 I28 M51
    Date: 2009–10–07
  2. By: Kou, Zonglai; Zhou, Min
    Abstract: The paper develops a model of academic tenure based on multi-tasking and screening. A professor has two tasks, researching and teaching. We assume that researching performance is easy to measure but teaching performance is immeasurable. Then Holmtrom and Milgrom's (1991) classical muli-task principal-agent model implies that the only way for the the university to "incentivize" teaching activity is decreasing the incentive power to researching activity. This justifies the low-powered contract to tenured professors. However, with low-powered contract, the university will face serious informational problem in the process of enrollment, either transferring rents to the candidates with low ability if the wage level is high, or suffering from the potential occupational vacancy if the wage level is low. To this dilemma, the up-or-out contract is a possible solution.
    Keywords: Multi-tasking, Screening, Academic Tenure, Up-or-Out Contract
    JEL: D86 J41 J44 M55
    Date: 2009–10
  3. By: Borghans, Lex (Maastricht University); Cörvers, Frank (ROA, Maastricht University)
    Abstract: Over the past two decades there has been a substantial increase in the mobility of students in Europe, while also research has become much more internationally oriented. In this paper we document changes in the structure of research and higher education in Europe and investigate potential explanations for the strong increase in its international orientation. While higher education started to grow substantially around 1960, only a few decades later, research and higher education transformed gradually to the American standard. Decreased communication costs are likely causes for this trend. This transformation is most clearly revealed in the change of language used in research from the national language, Latin, German and French to English. Smaller language areas made this transformation earlier while there are also clear timing differences between research fields. Sciences and medicine tend to switch to English first, followed by economics and social sciences, while for law and arts only the first signs of such a transformation are currently observed. This suggests that returns to scale and the transferability of research results are important influences in the decision to adopt the international standard.
    Keywords: higher education, research, Americanization
    JEL: O31 I23
    Date: 2009–09

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