Thursday, September 13, 2012

Does publishing better pay better in California?

In some countries, academics can be compensated for performance. Some universities provide incentives for good research and/or teaching through bonuses or pay raises. Others may only respond to outside offers, but the end effect is the same: performance compensation responds to market pressure. Or so we would like to think. There is, however, a substantial source of disagreement in how much a particular publication is worth. Everyone has his own ranking in mind, and the correlation among all those is not that high.

John Gibson, David Anderson and John Tressler look at Economics departments in the University of California system. They look at 700 Economics journals and how publication in them translates into tenure, promotion and salary increases. They compare different journal ranking schemes and finding that it is not only the order of journals that matters but also the convexity of the scores: how fast they drop after the top journals. This matter is consequential: the average lifetime output of a UC economist varies between 36 and 144 American Economic Review equivalent pages.

Results show that the statistical fits of various journal ranking schemes to salary outcomes are surprisingly close to each other. I wonder, though, how even more convex ranking schemes would have fared, such as the RePEc journal H-index which is used is several departments (but I am not sure about UC departments). Maybe this was not considered because of endogeneity issues. Another interesting result is that a 10-page article in the AER raises compensation by 1.3%, or US$27,500 in average net present value (neglecting the impact on retirement pensions).

1 comment:

Vilfredo said...

Oh I wish we had anything like an incentive system for research, with even a tenth of the incentives in California. The amount of bad research at my place is staggering.