How journal rankings can suppress interdisciplinary research

Title
How journal rankings can suppress interdisciplinary research: The case of Innovation Studies vs. Business and Management
Speaker(s)
Speaker: Dr Ismael Rafols # SPRU, University of Sussex
Date and Time
12th Mar 2012 15:30 12th Mar 2012 17:00
Location
ESRC Innogen Centre, Old Surgeons' Hall, HSY
URL
http://www.stis.ed.ac.uk/events/past_seminars/innogen_seminars/2011_2012/dr_ismael_rafols,_spru,_university_of_sussex

Abstract

While interdisciplinary research is valued as a means of encouraging scientific breakthroughs, innovation and socially relevant science, it is also widely perceived as being at a disadvantage in research evaluations. Qualitative studies have provided evidence that peer review tends to be biased against interdisciplinary research. However, quantitative studies on this claim have been few and inconclusive.

Using publication and citation data, this investigation compares the degree of interdisciplinarity and the research performance of a number of Innovation Studies units with that of leading Business & Management schools in the UK. Given the controversial nature of the concepts and measures of interdisciplinarity and performance, we make an explicit effort to ‘open up’ the evaluation by providing multiple scientometric perspectives and introducing novel mapping techniques.

On the basis of various mappings and metrics, we show that the use of Association of Business Schools’ rankings results in a favourable assessment of the performance of Business & Management schools, which are more disciplinary-focused. However, a citation-based analysis challenges the journal ranking-based assessment. In short, the investigation illustrates how ostensibly ‘excellence-based’ journal rankings exhibit a systematic bias in favour of mono-disciplinary research.

Finally, we discuss the implications of these findings, in particular how the bias is likely to affect negatively the evaluation and associated financial resourcing of interdisciplinary research organisations.

Full paper and visualisations available at: www.interdisciplinaryscience.net

Biography

Ismael Rafols is a Senior Research Fellow at SPRU, the University of Sussex, where he studies the dynamics of interdisciplinary fields, in particular nano- and biotechnologies, and the evaluation of interdisciplinary organisations. His research combines conceptual insights from Science and Technology Studies with network analysis based on scientometric data and interviews.

Personal webpage: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/people/peoplelists/person/167630

Research webpage: http://www.interdisciplinaryscience.net/

This talk will be recorded and then made available to view on this website a few weeks after the event.

For further information about accessibility please contact Angela McEwan on 0131 650 9113.