Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

The National Research Council Ranking of Research Universities: Its Impact on Research in Economics


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Administrators at many universities are using the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) measures of departmental performance to assess the performance of their economics departments. The NRC methodology measures faculty publications, citations, and grants in specific ways, which gives departments an incentive to enhance their performance as measured by the NRC metrics. This affects departmental hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions, and gives faculty an incentive to do the type of research that can produce more publications, citations, and grants as measured by the NRC. The NRC criteria count only a subset of publications, citations, and grants, so using that metric rewards research that the NRC counts over research that produces publications, citations, and grants that the NRC does not count. This favors mainstream work over more heterodox approaches to economics, favors expensive research programs that can be federally funded, and tends to make research departments more homogeneous.