The publications of Italian economists in ECONLIT. Quantitative assessment and implications for research evaluation

Roberto Zoboli, Giulio Cainelli, Annunziata De Felice

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review


The aim of the paper is to try to fill the gap in the knowledge related to the quantitative profile of Italian economists’s publications. We present and discuss some simple indicators of publication «productivity» (mainly publication per capita) for a sample of 2,160 academic and non-academic researchers in economics and statistics. As our primary source of information, we use the ECONLIT database that was developed by the American Economic Association. The data analysis – as far as we know the most extensive of its kind in Italy – was performed between September 2004 and March 2005, and includes ECONLIT publications for the period 1969 to 2004. Particular emphasis was placed on examining the propensity to publish in refereed international journals. Our main interest is in the indicators as a tool to measure the capacity of Italian economists to publish in internationally recognized scientific journals, not to measure the scientific value of their publications. Unlike contributions from other European countries, we do not propose rankings for individual economists and/or universities/institutions, merely simple quantitative indicators of publication performance. Our aim is thus quite limited, and the work is descriptive, but we hope it will encourage more in depth and detailed analyses. In the second part of the paper, based on the wide variability of publication performance that emerges from the analysis, we propose an interpretation of the mechanisms that might be producing this variation, and suggest some implications of the use of bibliometric indicators in research evaluation. We also suggest that bibliometric indicators can work as dynamic incentives and disincentives for the specialization of both institutions and researchers.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)385-423
Numero di pagine39
RivistaEconomia Politica
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2007


  • Italian economists
  • econlit
  • scientific production


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