Affiliated Organization

Case Western Reserve University, USA


An examination of a sample of 67 studies on research performance and productivity published between 1974 and 1998 identified two main perspectives named: evaluative approach and explanatory approach. The evaluative studies focus on assessing, comparing, and ranking researchers' performance. Though sometimes based on peer reviews, evaluative studies employ mainly bibliometric methods which stem from publication or citation counts. In contrary, the explanatory studies aim at the enablers of research productivity and evaluate their effect on researchers' performance. The explanatory studies examine determinants of research productivity, which have been classified as institutional, financial, collaborative, professional, personality, and demographic factors. A review of the literature found that most of the evaluative studies were conducted at the departmental or the institutional level, whereas explanatory studies were done at the individual level. These findings are counterintuitive because it is generally individuals who are evaluated and rewarded, whereas the controllable enablers of productivity are mainly institutional. Furthermore, although evaluative and explanatory studies are complementary in nature, using both perspectives in one study is surprisingly rare. Additional difficulties and perplexities related to measurement criteria and ranking schemes are identified and discussed.