Ever more frequently, governments have decided to implement policy measures intended to foster and reward excellence in scientific research. This is in fact the intended purpose of national research assessment exercises. These are typically based on the analysis of the quality of the best research products; however, a different approach to analysis and intervention is based on the measure of productivity of the individual scientists, meaning the overall impact of their entire scientific production over the period under observation. This work analyzes the convergence of the two approaches, asking if and to what measure the most productive scientists achieve highly cited articles; or vice versa, what share of highly cited articles is achieved by scientists that are “non-top” for productivity. To do this we use bibliometric indicators, applied to the 2004–2008 publications authored by academics of Italian universities and indexed in the Web of Science.
Over the last few years, the emergence of universities' third mission has significantly affected objectives, sources of funding and financing methods, as well as the management, of universities. Although the university-industry relationships have been widely investigated, several interesting theoretical and empirical issues still remain open in the literature. In this paper we construct an original data set, combining financial information with structural and organizational data on Italian University departments, with a twofold aim. First, to describe the importance and the extent of third-party funding in the Italian system of research as well as the pattern of evolution over the last few years. Second, to investigate the factors that influence both the probability and the intensity of the commitment of departments in third-party activities by building a multi-level framework combining factors at individual, departmental, university and territorial levels. The results obtained suggest a number of policy implications for universities and policy makers. On one hand, universities should explicitly recognize the role of dedicated internal organizations and provide training for professional staff capable of acting as value-added intermediaries. On the other hand, if policy makers wish to improve the relationships between universities and external actors, disciplinary differences across departments as well as regional inequalities in growth levels should be carefully considered, giving up a one-size-fits-all approach.
Nel settore della ricerca pubblica l'Italia investe meno della media europea. Se rapportato alle risorse impegnate e ai ricercatori, l'output risulta però elevato e la sua qualità media, condotta presso università ed enti di ricerca, non è molto lontana rispetto a paesi prossimi come la Francia, anche se con difficoltà di affermazione nelle punte più avanzate. Il sistema italiano, assai articolato e frammentato nei soggetti che vi operano e nelle fonti di finanziamento, risente di una scarsa attitudine all'applicazione dei risultati e alla collaborazione con le imprese, che a loro volta investono poco e incontrano difficoltà a collegare la propria attività di ricerca con gli input provenienti dai centri di ricerca pubblica. Il sistema sconta inoltre la mancanza di una chiara strategia che stabilisca gli obiettivi da raggiungere, disegni missioni e modelli organizzativi delle strutture di ricerca coerenti con gli obiettivi individuati e definisca le risorse necessarie al loro raggiungimento. La pressante necessità di un rilancio della capacità innovativa del Paese, infatti, non può prescindere da un sistema della ricerca pubblica adeguatamente finanziato ed efficientemente governato.
Bonaccorsi A, Secondi L, Ancaiani A and Setteducati E
2011 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (Iceri)
, : 1566-1576
EXPLORING THE ROLE OF THIRD-PARTY RESEARCH IN ITALIAN UNIVERSITIES
In the last years several changes have occurred in the university research environment concerning both the funding method and the evaluation of research performance. On one hand, universities have significantly increased the recruitment of research funds from external sources - in addition to the basic research mainly funded by government and institutions' core budget - thus realizing a basis for the interaction between science and industry and for the creation of social and economic returns. On the other hand, the modification in the research funding system lead to consider indicators based on financial data in addition to the classical indicators for evaluating the research performance. However, the use of funding data - including third-party amount of funding - as suitable indicators to describe research performance of university departments and therefore for evaluating the scientific capacity of a university is still a debated issue due to the differences among fields of study and the non-profit nature of universities. In Italy, the newly established National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes is called to define performance indicators, concerning both the education process and the research activities, to be used for distributing funds to the universities on the basis of their performance. In this context, the increasing attitude of universities to collaborate with external partners and therefore the activation of the wider process of knowledge transfer are two major aspects to carefully and properly consider in the framework of research activities evaluation. This study has a twofold aim. Firstly, after a brief analysis of the evolution of funding sources of research activities in Italy, we will aim to shed light on the definition, the importance and the extent of third party funding in the Italian system of research funding. Secondly, by applying suitable statistical models we will empirically investigate the factors that characterize the departments making research on behalf of third parties as well as the significant features in raising research funding from external sources. The analysis include all Italian university departments and it will be based on a unique data set obtained by combining different sources of data - collected early by the Italian Ministry of Education University and Research - which include information concerning both the structure, also in terms of academic staff, the field of study of the department and the economic context in which each institution operates. Although discussion in the paper focuses on the evaluation process and the use of results obtained as a basis for the definition of a global research evaluation framework, the analysis carried out can also represent an important tool for each university institution regarding the internal processes of decision making and monitoring.
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