Monday, December 21, 2009

Research Report Card

Forfas have recently released a study on the output of Irish researchers called "Research strengths in Ireland: A bibliometric study of the public research base" and can be read here. The press release for the report paints a positive picture.

A comprehensive study of publicly-funded research performance has shown that Ireland has improved in terms of the volume and impact of its research. Ireland ranks 8th on the impact of research publications within a group of 20 comparator countries.

The study was conducted on behalf of Forfás and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) by Evidence Ltd., part of the Thomson Reuters Group. It shows that Ireland is punching above its weight in terms of the impact of its research.

The report goes through output and impact factors in a number of key research areas at both a national and institutional level. Here, we will consider the output and impact of business research in Ireland.

The performance of Ireland in business research is pushed upwards by a jump in 2007 to 123 papers that was well above the 71 paper average of the previous five years. It is not certain that this higher level will be maintained. Even with this increase Ireland still ranks only 17th of the 20th countries included.

Output may be low but the citation impact (measured as citations per paper) seems stronger

Ireland’s ranking within the comparator group has moved up to 5th, but this position reflects other poor performances relative to world average by a number of comparator nations rather than any great strength in Irish research.

Looking at the total number of research papers by institution across all areas.

The three biggest Irish institutions, UCD, TCD and UCC show strong growth in research output over the ten year period. This growth however has not been replicated in the business area in UCC.

[Note: The section of the report that looked at 20 "project" research areas provided research output data for an area called "economics and business". As with the statistics above the section of the report that looks at institutional performance reports statistics for "business". Economics does not seem to form part of the institutional comparisons. The total number of papers in "economics and business" from 2002-2007 was 568 or an average of 95. There were 344 papers included in "business" from 2003-2007 for an average of 69 a year. It is not clear why a "project" research area is larger than a "main" research area or whether Economics forms part of the "business" main research area.]

UCC is the only institution in Ireland that has seen a drop in the output of business papers. For the five year period 2003-2007, UCC's output of business reserach was just 16% of that of UCD. UCC produced an average of 4.6 business research papers per year. For the entire sample UCC produced 5375 papers with only 250 or 4.6% of these in the business area.

UCC is in a group with NUIM, DCU and UL producing about 5 business research papers per year. NUIG, TCD and, in particular, UCD all having higher business research outputs. The report notes that "Business output volume is still very low, with most institutions producing barely a handful of papers per year. TCD is not increasing its output, so the growth at UCD marks it out as the centre for business research rather than just a leader in a more general growth pattern."

The citation impact of UCC business research is extremely low and is by far the worst of the institutions included. The report again emphasises the performance of UCD noting that "UCD is the only institution with significant volume and growth and its impact is now rising above world average. It is notable that TCD has slipped downwards over several years."

UCC is nowhere.

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