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Title: Evaluating and financing university research. Comparative case study: Italy, France, Germany and Spain
Tutor: Lucisano, Pietro
Ghignoni, Emanuela
Magni, Carlo
Keywords: research evaluation
financing research
comparative case study
Issue Date: 9-May-2014
Abstract: This work focuses on evaluating and financing university research, a theme in the foreground in the public policy agendas of most European countries. The analysis concerns four national contexts: Italy, France, Spain and Germany, whose university systems are mainly public and publicly financed. In the framework of the Bologna Process, the goal is to describe policies and practices adopted in different countries in order to manage economic resources in the most effective way towards the production of excellent and/or good quality research. The study is articulated in two level of analysis. At the macro level, a survey has been administered to assess the positions of the academic world on crucial issues concerning funding and evaluating university research. The results show how academics in the four countries intend the mission of university and its role in society, how they think evaluation should intervene in the funding distribution mechanisms and, ultimately, their way to interpret the concept of quality in research. At the micro level, the project analyses five public universities, in order to explain the factors that favor, in each of them, the production of excellent results in research. The analysis was conducted both through documental sources and field visits, during which a number of stakeholders granted interviews on the policies adopted by their institutions. The case studies show that some crucial factors, such as the availability of economic resources and the characteristics of the urban and national contexts, are so different to render “unsound” any comparison of results that doesn’t take into consideration such uneven starting points. On the other hand, the study shows that, even in difficult times, universities are able to implement internal policies, such as well-thought research evaluation systems, that act as “favorable winds” facilitating their navigation towards the desired shores.

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