Bibliometrics in academic recruitment: A screening tool rather than a game changer
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionReymert, I. (2020). Bibliometrics in academic recruitment: A screening tool rather than a game changer. Minerva, 1-26. 10.1007/s11024-020-09419-0
This paper investigates the use of metrics to recruit professors for academic positions. We analyzed confidential reports with candidate evaluations in economics, sociology, physics, and informatics at the University of Oslo between 2000 and 2017. These unique data enabled us to explore how metrics were applied in these evaluations in relation to other assessment criteria. Despite being important evaluation criteria, metrics were seldom the most salient criteria in candidate evaluations. Moreover, metrics were applied chiefly as a screening tool to decrease the number of eligible candidates and not as a replacement for peer review. Contrary to the literature suggesting an escalation of metrics, we foremost detected stable assessment practices with only a modestly increased reliance on metrics. In addition, the use of metrics proved strongly dependent on disciplines where the disciplines applied metrics corresponding to their evaluation cultures. These robust evaluation practices provide an empirical example of how core university processes are chiefly characterized by path-dependency mechanisms, and only moderately by isomorphism. Additionally, the disciplinary-dependent spread of metrics offers a theoretical illustration of how travelling standards such as metrics are not only diffused but rather translated to fit the local context, resulting in heterogeneity and context-dependent spread.