A sensitivity analysis of researchers' productivity rankings to the time of citation observation

Giovanni Abramo, Tindaro Cicero, Ciriaco Andrea D'Angelo

In this work we investigate the sensitivity of individual researchers' productivity rankings to the time of citation observation. The analysis is based on observation of research products for the 2001-2003 triennium for all research staff of Italian universities in the hard sciences, with the year of citation observation varying from 2004 to 2008. The 2008 rankings list is assumed the most accurate, as citations have had the longest time to accumulate and thus represent the best possible proxy of impact. By comparing the rankings lists from each year against the 2008 benchmark we provide policy-makers and research organization managers a measure of trade-off between timeliness of evaluation execution and accuracy of performance rankings. The results show that with variation in the evaluation citation window there are variable rates of inaccuracy across the disciplines of researchers. The inaccuracy results negligible for Physics, Biology and Medicine.

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