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Home arrow Education arrow Evaluating Collaboration Networks in Higher Education Research: Drivers of Excellence


Among the key parameters in contemporary research, performance networks processes and outcomes must be included. A research has different products—intellectual and material—which are produced in collaborative research networks; its impact can be at a local or global level. Traditionally,

D. Leite, I. Pinho, Evaluating Collaboration Networks in Higher Education Research, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-45225-8_1

the relevance of research is considered high if its impact is international, read, understood, and replicated, reaching the scientific community and other audience all around the globe. The impact of theoretical and practical results, contribute not only to the progress of science itself, but also to the creation of wealth in the form of patents, tradable goods, and innovations in industry and services, that is, on improving the sustainable economy. The science results should also support the decision-making of public policy. Among outputs, from researchers and their networks, is expected the training mission of the new scientists (Adams, 2012; Alperin, 2013; Fiorin, 2007; Kreimer, 2007, 2011). Although it seems an isolated activity, parameterized by paradigms, research is increasingly becoming cross-disciplinary and overcoming geographical and territorial boundaries and to bring researchers from different disciplines, different fields of knowledge, and different knowledge production interests.

The evaluation of the research and the researcher, however, is to consider all areas of knowledge as identical; likewise, the evaluation considers the production ofknowledge and its products as being equal in all fields of knowledge. Researchers and academic teachers are being evaluated in the same way by the metrics of their bibliographic production. Bibliometric indicators accomplish and comply with this purpose. These metrics are instruments for detecting knowledge production and for research results communication. But, as Van Raan (2006, p. 409) argues, “ ... the conventional bibliometric indicators may fail to account for this nonlinearity between size - measured by the number of publications - and impact - measured by a number of citations - and could result in an over or underestimation of research performance.”

Under this assumption, the productivity measures—mainly based on the number of publications in national and international journals— makeup the indexes that will accredit and classify universities, higher education institutions, and their programs all over the world. The dynamics involve both the logic of publications in impact journals, international journals, as well as in national journals whose classification was defined by national research agencies. Evaluation can be a hint not just to mark out the individual output of a researcher as to serve the purpose of admission, retention, career progression, or even resignation in professional teaching and research. The type of individual production includes bibliographic, cultural, and technical products, patents requested, patents that are commercially exploited, software, prototypes, and others. Therefore, they contribute to the reputational concepts given to higher education institutions. Such indexes and concepts are, indeed, mathematic formulations, but they validate the research activity in the meso-level or institutional context, locus of individual researcher career, and research networks and research group activities. They can acquire an extreme and unique importance because, at the same time, they reverberate international university rankings, they can change the focus of research practices toward a sterile productivity. In a meaningful purpose, by another side, they can also be drivers of excellence research, contributing to the fourth research age. Unfortunately, it seems to be that the evaluation procedures restrained to measurements do not consider the effective collaboration inside research networks and research groups. In the most acknowledged evaluation systems, products are measured but the processes through which they are acquired remain mostly unknown.

Science is not done in a vacuum; it is located at geographical spaces and at social spaces. Looking at global research production from economic regions with static and dynamic lenses can give some understanding of this reality. We know that different fields of knowledge have different patterns of scientific publication and different areas build different types of research networks, but we need to understand the global context and microdynamics to better manage knowledge processes.

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