Jan 3 2019

Big university departments are not better than small ones

Highly productive and highly cited units are found among both small, medium and large departments.

In a new study, NIFU has investigated whether university department size is important in determining publication productivity and citation impact.

Drawing on a unique dataset containing a variety of different variables at department levels, we are able to provide a richer picture of the research performance than what typically has been the case in many previous studies.

In addition to analyzing the basic question of how size relates to scientific performance, we address whether the funding profile of the departments plays a role, whether the scientific performance is influenced by the composition of the academic personnel (in terms of gender, academic positions, recruiting personnel and the share of doctoral degree holders).

The study shows that virtually no size effect can be identified and highly productive and highly cited units are found among both small, medium and large departments.

For none of the organizational variables we are able to identify statistically significant relationships in respect to research performance at an overall level. We conclude that the productivity and citation differences at the level of departments cannot generally be explained by the selected variables for department size, funding structure and the composition of scientific personnel.

NIFU Working Paper 2017:14

For more information, contact
Dag W. Aksnes, Research Professor, Statistics & Indicators
dag.w.aksnes@nifu.no
(+47) 99 47 43 38