Measuring Research Output in Communication Sciences and Educational Sciences between international benchmarks, cultural differences and social relevance

The aims of this project consist in developing a methodology for quantitatively measuring research output in communication sciences, taking into account its different dimensions: international quality benchmark and visibility, cultural and linguistic differences and, finally, social and political relevance of the field. Moreover, the project will test the transferability of the developed methods to the field of educational sciences and, more generally, to other domains of social sciences.

On the methodological side we adopt the compass card approach as well as the model developed in Fribourg for the institutional evaluation of research, which both aim to develop quantitative measures of the different dimensions of research output of a field, including international academic visibility, transfer to economy, society and public service, presence in the public debate and contribution to the training of the research personnel. Suitable metrics for measuring these dimensions will be developed through panels of experts in the field and in close collaboration with the Swiss Association of Communication and Media Research, in order to get results which are shared by the scientific community. Moreover, a panel of international experts will validate these results against international best practices on S&T indicators.

This approach is particularly well-suited to characterize the different strategic orientation of research units and can thus also be applied to fields which are not only oriented towards international academic visibility; it is therefore a powerful support for evaluation and strategic decision-making within the universities and at the level of the whole field.

Moreover, we will test the transferability of the developed methods and metrics to other fields of social sciences, starting with educational sciences, as well as developing good practices for the adaptation to the specificities of each field.

In the framework of the Swiss Rector’s Conference Initiative we will address three major objectives: developing quantitative evaluation methods suited to the social sciences and humanities; developing approaches to address linguistic and cultural differences, which are a main issue in communication sciences; and, finally, measuring different types of output of research, including applications for the society and the economy.

The project will be jointly developed by the Universities of Lugano and Fribourg, with the participation of the University of Zurich (for communication sciences) and Berne (for educational sciences), as well as of the Swiss Association of Communication and Media Research (SGKM). The involved partners have a wide experience in quantitative evaluation of research, both at the academic and at the practical level, as well as an excellent knowledge of the examined fields; full support of the rectorates and of SGKM will ensure a smooth application of the project’s results in university evaluation practices.