In recent years, higher education institutes have shifted towards managerial organisational models. Some observers see this as a sign of our neoliberal times, with obsession for rankings, performance indicators and resource allocation. The result is that academic work is more competitive nowadays. Rankings and quantitative analysis of research output are more and more crucial for hiring, promotion and funding allocations. Chapter 2 touches upon these themes and suggests the fruitfulness of cross fertilisation between sociology and science studies. To study this hyper-competitive context, we designed a complex research project to answer different questions regarding multi-faceted aspects of the subject. Our main question was to find what factors drive research collaboration and productivity. These factors are helping some researchers be more successful than others in current evaluation based system. We have employed two sets of data to achieve this goal. One national and one international, both considering the case of sociologists. For individual research productivity measurement and to explore correlates of this productivity (Chapter 3) and macro level policy effect analysis (Chapter 4), we reconstructed the full publication list of all currently hired Italian sociologists on available data. We looked into their research productivity and how they have reacted to the ANVUR national policies by taking into account their embeddedness in different academic contexts. Our aim in Chapter 3 was to explain individual research productivity with organisational embeddedness and we found that male scientists, those working more internationally, and those working with a similar group of coauthors were more productive but not necessarily more cited by other members of the community.In Chapter 4, we analysed the effects of the Italian national research assessment exercise (VQR 2004-2010 by ANVUR) on research productivity and publication behavior of sociologists. Results showed that ANVUR had a limited influence on research productivity. Indeed most differences in individual research productivity of Italian sociologists were due to individual characteristics. Academics who experienced a promotion after 2010 were the most prolific authors.To explore the structural and societal effects on research productivity of sociologists in a more competitive arena at the international level, in Chapter 5, we reconstructed gender, background information and coauthorship networks of all published authors in two top sociology journals, i.e., the American Journal of Sociology (AJS) and the American Sociological Review (ASR). We expected that examining the élite of our community could reveal interesting patterns, especially to understand certain implications of the hyper-competitive academic culture. We found that white male authors affiliated to US institutes were over-represented in these journals. We also found that male authors tended to work more in team and found trace of significant gender and ethnicity penalties. In Chapter 6 we looked into research communities formation and evolution through the time among Italian sociologists. We aimed to investigate if being a member of these communities would inspire different patterns of scientific collaboration among Italian sociologists. We used a sophisticated multi-level design by using temporal community detection. We found the two largest and most stable research communities among Italian sociologists who were political and economic sociologists. We further explored the underlying mechanisms and processes of coauthorship tie existence in multi-level exponential random graph models (ERGMs) trying to take individual, community and macro levels into account in one integrated framework. We found that the collaboration ties were mainly driven by research focus while preferential attachment was also at work and highly prolific researchers attracted further coauthorship ties. In Chapter 7, we conclude by emphasising that academic work has changed drastically in 21st century. Scientific collaboration is a multi-faceted phenomenon and any effort at studying it only with one or two approaches or with one observational unit would yield reductionistic results. That was the main reason behind our effort to investigate this phenomenon from different points of views. Finally, in Appendices Chapter, how to access the data and R and Python scripts developed during this research project is described and an Annotated bibliography on different aspects of academic work is provided.

QUANTITATIVE SOCIOLOGY OF ACADEMIC WORK IN AN ERA OF HYPERCOMPETITION AND RANKINGS / A. Akbaritabar ; tutor: F. Squazzoni ; coordinatore: G. Ballarino. - : . Universita' degli Studi di MILANO, 2019 Apr 16. ((31. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2018. [10.13130/akbaritabar-aliakbar_phd2019-04-16].

QUANTITATIVE SOCIOLOGY OF ACADEMIC WORK IN AN ERA OF HYPERCOMPETITION AND RANKINGS

A. Akbaritabar
2019

Abstract

In recent years, higher education institutes have shifted towards managerial organisational models. Some observers see this as a sign of our neoliberal times, with obsession for rankings, performance indicators and resource allocation. The result is that academic work is more competitive nowadays. Rankings and quantitative analysis of research output are more and more crucial for hiring, promotion and funding allocations. Chapter 2 touches upon these themes and suggests the fruitfulness of cross fertilisation between sociology and science studies. To study this hyper-competitive context, we designed a complex research project to answer different questions regarding multi-faceted aspects of the subject. Our main question was to find what factors drive research collaboration and productivity. These factors are helping some researchers be more successful than others in current evaluation based system. We have employed two sets of data to achieve this goal. One national and one international, both considering the case of sociologists. For individual research productivity measurement and to explore correlates of this productivity (Chapter 3) and macro level policy effect analysis (Chapter 4), we reconstructed the full publication list of all currently hired Italian sociologists on available data. We looked into their research productivity and how they have reacted to the ANVUR national policies by taking into account their embeddedness in different academic contexts. Our aim in Chapter 3 was to explain individual research productivity with organisational embeddedness and we found that male scientists, those working more internationally, and those working with a similar group of coauthors were more productive but not necessarily more cited by other members of the community.In Chapter 4, we analysed the effects of the Italian national research assessment exercise (VQR 2004-2010 by ANVUR) on research productivity and publication behavior of sociologists. Results showed that ANVUR had a limited influence on research productivity. Indeed most differences in individual research productivity of Italian sociologists were due to individual characteristics. Academics who experienced a promotion after 2010 were the most prolific authors.To explore the structural and societal effects on research productivity of sociologists in a more competitive arena at the international level, in Chapter 5, we reconstructed gender, background information and coauthorship networks of all published authors in two top sociology journals, i.e., the American Journal of Sociology (AJS) and the American Sociological Review (ASR). We expected that examining the élite of our community could reveal interesting patterns, especially to understand certain implications of the hyper-competitive academic culture. We found that white male authors affiliated to US institutes were over-represented in these journals. We also found that male authors tended to work more in team and found trace of significant gender and ethnicity penalties. In Chapter 6 we looked into research communities formation and evolution through the time among Italian sociologists. We aimed to investigate if being a member of these communities would inspire different patterns of scientific collaboration among Italian sociologists. We used a sophisticated multi-level design by using temporal community detection. We found the two largest and most stable research communities among Italian sociologists who were political and economic sociologists. We further explored the underlying mechanisms and processes of coauthorship tie existence in multi-level exponential random graph models (ERGMs) trying to take individual, community and macro levels into account in one integrated framework. We found that the collaboration ties were mainly driven by research focus while preferential attachment was also at work and highly prolific researchers attracted further coauthorship ties. In Chapter 7, we conclude by emphasising that academic work has changed drastically in 21st century. Scientific collaboration is a multi-faceted phenomenon and any effort at studying it only with one or two approaches or with one observational unit would yield reductionistic results. That was the main reason behind our effort to investigate this phenomenon from different points of views. Finally, in Appendices Chapter, how to access the data and R and Python scripts developed during this research project is described and an Annotated bibliography on different aspects of academic work is provided.
SQUAZZONI, FLAMINIO
BALLARINO, GABRIELE
Academic work; Quantitative Research Evaluation; Coauthorship networks; Temporal Commu-nity Detection; ERGM; Embeddedness; Multi-level Analysis
Settore SPS/07 - Sociologia Generale
Settore SPS/09 - Sociologia dei Processi economici e del Lavoro
http://hdl.handle.net/2434/533347
http://hdl.handle.net/2434/528232
QUANTITATIVE SOCIOLOGY OF ACADEMIC WORK IN AN ERA OF HYPERCOMPETITION AND RANKINGS / A. Akbaritabar ; tutor: F. Squazzoni ; coordinatore: G. Ballarino. - : . Universita' degli Studi di MILANO, 2019 Apr 16. ((31. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2018. [10.13130/akbaritabar-aliakbar_phd2019-04-16].
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