The impact of a national research assessment on the publications of sociologists in Italy
Science and Public Policy, 48:5, 662–678 (2021)
This article investigates the impact of the second national research assessment (VQR 2004–10), which was performed in 2011 by the Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes, on publication strategies by sociologists in Italy. We reconstructed all publications from Italian sociologists in Scopus between 2006 and 2015, that is five years before and after the assessment. We also checked academic tenure and promotions during the assessment. Our results showed the potentially distortive effect of institutional signals on publications given that Italian sociologists published more in journals that were considered influential for assessment, some, however, being of doubtful quality. Our findings would suggest that the use of informed peer review and ad hoc journal ranking could stimulate adaptive responses based on strategic journal targeting to ensure publication.