nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2011‒11‒21
five papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. Creating Humble Economists: A Code of Ethics for Economists By David Colander
  2. Publishing Trends in Economics across Colleges and Universities, 1991-2007 By Winkler, Anne E.; Levin, Sharon; Stephan, Paula; Glänzel, Wolfgang
  3. Sub-field normaliztion in the multiplicative case : high- and low- impact citation indicators By Neus Herranz; Javier Ruiz-Castillo
  4. Measures for Ph.D. Evaluation: the Recruitment Process By Antonella D'Agostino; Stefania Fruzzetti; Giulio Ghellini; Laura Neri
  5. Performance-related Funding of Universities: Does More Competition Lead to Grade Inflation? By Bauer, Thomas; Grave, Barbara S.

  1. By: David Colander
    Abstract: From the movie, Inside Job, one gets the sense that economists are ethically challenged because they take payments for writing papers that say what the funders of their research want them to say. This paper takes issue with that and suggests that the more serious ethical problem of economics has little to do with the funding of economic research. It has to do with lack of humility. It argues that economists have a tendency to convey more scientific certainty in their policy positions than the theory and evidence objectively would allow. Too many economists are willing to make seemingly definitive scientific statements about policy based on models, that they know, or should know, are highly imperfect. To deal with that problem, this paper suggests that applied economists should see themselves as engineers, not as applied scientists. It argues that doing so is important because engineering has a broader and more humble methodology than does science. Because applied economists are essentially engineers, the paper argues that an Economist’s Code of Ethics can be closely based on the National Society of Professional Engineer’s Code of Ethics.
    Keywords: code of ethics; methodology; science; humility; applied; moral
    JEL: A1 B0 B4
    Date: 2011–11
  2. By: Winkler, Anne E. (University of Missouri-St. Louis); Levin, Sharon (University of Missouri-St. Louis); Stephan, Paula (Georgia State University); Glänzel, Wolfgang (K.U.Leuven)
    Abstract: There is good reason to think that non-elite programs in economics may be producing relatively more research than in the past: Research expectations have been ramped-up at non-PhD institutions and new information technologies have changed the way academic knowledge is produced and exchanged. This study investigates this question by examining publishing productivity in economics (and business) using data from the Web of Science (Knowledge) for a broad set of institutions – both elite and non-elite – over a 17-year period, from 1991 through 2007. Institutions are grouped into six tiers using a variety of sources. The analysis provides evidence that non-elite institutions are gaining on their more elite counterparts, but the magnitude of the gains are small. Thus, the story is more of constancy than of change, even in the face of changing technology and rising research expectations.
    Keywords: higher education, research productivity, publishing trends, inequality
    JEL: A14 I23
    Date: 2011–10
  3. By: Neus Herranz; Javier Ruiz-Castillo
    Abstract: This paper uses high- and low-impact citation indicators for the evaluation of the citation performance of research units at different aggregate levels. To solve the problem of the assignment of individual articles to multiple sub-fields, it follows a multiplicative strategy according to which each paper is wholly counted as many times as necessary in the several categories to which it is assigned at each aggregation level. To control for wide differences in citation practices at the lowest level of aggregation, we apply a novel sub-field normalization procedure in the multiplicative case. The methodology is applied to a partition of the world into three geographical areas: the U.S., the European Union (EU), and the Rest of the World. The main findings are the following two. (i) Although normalization does not systematically bias the results against any area, it reduces the U.S./EU highimpact gap in the all-sciences case by a non-negligible 14.4%. (ii) The dominance of the U.S. over the EU in the basic and applied research published in the periodical literature is almost universal at all aggregation levels. From the high-impact perspective, for example, the U.S. is ahead of the EU in 77 out of 80 disciplines, and all of 20 fields. For all sciences as a whole, the U.S. high-impact indicator is 61% greater than that of the EU
    Keywords: Índice de citas, Referencias bibliográficas
    Date: 2011–10
  4. By: Antonella D'Agostino; Stefania Fruzzetti; Giulio Ghellini; Laura Neri
    Abstract: Recently the quality of Higher Education (HE) system and its evaluation have been key issues of the political and scientific debate on education policies all over Europe. In the wide landscape that involves the entire HE system we draw attention on the third level of its organization, i.e. the Ph.D. In particular, this paper discusses the necessity of monitoring the recruitment process of Ph.D. system because it represents a fundamental aspect of the Ph.D. system as a whole. We introduce a set of concepts related to the recruitment process and then we make them computable with synthetic indicators. The study provides an empirical analysis based on doctoral schools of four academic years at the University of Siena. Proposed indicators are finally used for detecting weakness and strength of each Ph.D. school.
    Keywords: Ph.D. schools, Ph.D.s. recruitment, diversity, external attractiveness, polarization
    JEL: I21 I23
    Date: 2011–10
  5. By: Bauer, Thomas (RWI); Grave, Barbara S. (RWI)
    Abstract: German universities are regarded as being under-financed, inefficient, and performing below average if compared to universities in other European countries and the US. Starting in the 1990s, several German federal states implemented reforms to improve this situation. An important part of these reforms has been the introduction of indicator-based funding systems. These financing systems aimed at increasing the competition between universities by making their pubic funds dependent on their relative performance concerning different output measures, such as the share of students obtaining a degree or the amount of third party funds. This paper evaluates whether the indicator-based funding created unintended incentives, i.e. whether the reform caused grade inflation. Estimating mean as well as quantile treatment effects, we cannot support the hypothesis that increased competition between universities causes grade inflation.
    Keywords: grade inflation, higher education funding, university competition
    JEL: H52 I21 I22
    Date: 2011–10

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