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Title: Inequality in Academic Knowledge Production. The Role of Research Top Performers Across Europe
Authors: Kwiek, Marek
Keywords: research productivity
publishing patterns
academic stratification
gender differences
gender distribution
highly productive academics
European universities
Derek de Solla Price
academic profession
quantitative study
European universities
academic output
research output
cross-national study
top performance
research performance
academic productivity
high research productivity
academic inequality
research orientation
research mission
measuring productivity
knowledge production
EUROAC study
CAP study
publishing distribution
women in science
science and gender
gender gap
productivity gap
Issue Date: 2015
Citation: In: Emanuela Reale and Emilia Primeri, eds., Universities in transition. Shifting institutional and organizational boundaries. Rotterdam: Sense, 2015, pp. 1-29.
Abstract: This paper focuses on the inequality in academic knowledge production and finds the productivity distribution patterns across European systems to be strikingly similar, despite starkly different national academic traditions. The upper echelons of highly productive academics (the upper 10 percent of academics who are ranked highest in terms of their publishing performance in 11 European countries) provide, on average, almost half of all academic knowledge production. The primary data analyzed comes from the large-scale global CAP and European EUROAC research projects on the academic profession (“Changing Academic Profession” and “Academic Profession in Europe”), with 13,908 usable cases of research-involved academics. In particular, the data studied in this paper refer to a subpopulation of highly productive academics (N=1,583), contrasted with a subpopulation of 90 percent of the remaining academics (N=12,325). If a research question can be “the theoretical or empirical puzzle that motivates a given study” (Brady and Collier 2010: 347), then our study was motivated by the puzzle of the impact of highly productive academics on overall European publishing output. In short, the inequality in academic knowledge production in Europe is as follows: about 10 percent of academics – termed research top performers here – produce on average almost half (45.9 percent) of all articles, and 20 percent produce two-thirds of them (65.4 percent). The remaining 80 percent of academics produce on average only about one third of all articles (34.6 percent). If the research-active segment of the European academic profession is divided into two halves, the upper most productive half produces almost all the articles (94.1 percent), and the lower most productive half produces less than 6 percent. From a gender perspective, the proportion of male academics among research top performers is higher (three out of four) than that of female academics but “productivity concentration indexes” for both genders (linking the percentages of male and female top performers to the percentages of all male and all female academics in national systems) clearly show that the role of highly productive female academics is much higher than traditionally assumed in the literature on social stratification in science. This paper provides another, this time large-scale and cross-national, corroboration of the systematic inequality in knowledge production, for the first time argued for by Alfred Lotka (1929) and Derek de Solla Price (1963). We show here that the traditional stratification of the academic profession based on different publishing patterns still holds across Europe.
Appears in Collections:Artykuły naukowe (WNS)

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