All Finnish law faculties are state funded. They provide the basic qualification to enter the legal profession. The output of the law faculties and legal scholars is evaluated by reference to criteria formulated by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the university administration. The criteria include educational (the number of bachelor and master degrees) and research indicators. The indicators in assessing research outputs include the number of doctoral degrees, the others being the amount of external research funding and the number of (ranked) publications. The ‘key actor’ in the evaluation of academic publications is the so-called Publication Forum (in Finnish JUFO). The Forum has created a rating and classification system to support the quality assessment of research output. At the same time, evaluation and ranking practices are based more on formal than on substantial criteria. Actually, a kind of convergence of disciplines can be seen in the Finnish academic life. The convergence is one-sided: publication and evaluation practices of natural sciences have quite actively been adapted by social sciences and humanities.: Writing of journal articles merits more than the writing of textbooks or other monographs, texts written in English are scientifically and ‘economically’ more valuable than those written in national languages.
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In France, the evaluation of academic legal publications is not current practice, but it is changing. The national institution in charge of evaluation of research entities takes more and more consideration about legal publications. It is also getting better when submitting academic output for publication and when defending PhD theses. The assessment of legal publications is also important for the recruitment of academic staff (associate and full professors), nationally and locally, but can be increased for promotion of academics and for research funding.
Kai Purnhagen and Niels Petersen
If legal scholarship is lagging behind other disciplines in using more objective evaluation standards for assessing the quality of legal research, Germany is definitely not at the forefront of closing the gap. Skepticism towards seemingly more objective assessment methods is more widely shared than in other European countries. There is no state-sponsored performance evaluation exercise of law schools on the federal level; peer-review of manuscripts for the acceptance in journals or monograph series is rare; and the use of journal rankings, citation analysis or other bibliometric tools is almost non-existent. Doctoral and postdoctoral (habilitation) theses are usually evaluated inside the faculty without external review. The quality standards that do exist mostly refer to the substantive evaluation of individual pieces of scholarship. However, they are rather vague and subject to diverging interpretations.
Within the general context of scientific research assessment exercises, evaluation of legal research has specific characteristics due to the peculiarity of legal science. The discussion on the topic is very lively in Italy, in particular from the time (2011) the Agency for the Evaluation of University and Research System (ANVUR) has launched national exercises on evaluation of quality research. The chapter presents an overview of the Italian research environment and its evaluation, showing a renewal in the assessment of legal research, despite the conservative attitude of legal scholars who are strongly resistant to change. Attention has focused on effectiveness and significance of research evaluation as well as on the tools to be used to evaluate legal research outputs in Italy.
Slovenia has essentially adopted a bibliometric system of research evaluation, based on impact factors, whereby more or less the same rules apply for evaluating research across all fields and disciplines, including law. This chapter shows that although there are some advantages of the bibliometric system, there are also several drawbacks, where form threatens to prevail over the content of publications. Even though one might say that Slovenian research evaluation reflects a Big Brother like approach, where every step of a researcher is scored, the system has certain advantages, especially in terms of objectivity and transparency. On the other hand, however, the Slovenian bibliometric model committed a categorical error against which Thomson Reuters itself warns, i.e. impact factors of scientific journals are used to evaluate the scientific performance of individual researchers, thereby encouraging salami slicing and several other practices to potentiate the bibliometric score.
The chapter provides an overview of how academic legal research publications are evaluated in Spain. This is still a little researched area and many aspects of such evaluation still remain unclear or underdeveloped. Moreover evaluation mostly focuses on merely formal or external aspects such as some so-called objective indicators and scant attention is paid to whether research actually adds to legal knowledge as such. To make things worse, evaluation criteria are often defined in rather imprecise ways, which makes the outcome of evaluation rather unpredictable. As a result, a researcher in the field of law may find it rather difficult to know what to do exactly so as to obtain a positive evaluation.
Antonia Bakardjieva Engelbrekt
This chapter discusses the principles and methods for quality evaluation of legal research and legal publications in Sweden, reviewing the various contexts in which such evaluation takes place, from allocation of research funding to universities and law faculties to academic appointments and promotions. The chapter describes briefly the general system of research funding in Sweden, underlining the centrality of direct public funding set in proportion to the educational tasks of universities. However, the chapter also identifies a trend towards basing public funding more decisively on research quality, and a marked increase of the use of quantitative methods (i.e. bibliometric indicators such as number of publications and citations) for measuring research quality. While the use of metrics is viewed as an imperfect tool for assessing research quality, some quality-enhancing effects are nevertheless acknowledged, chiefly in terms of increased productivity and encouraging research collaborations, inter-disciplinarity and publications in leading international law journals. In addition, a sustained focus on research quality arguably makes legal scholars more acutely aware of the need to better explain their theoretical frames and methodological choices and revitalizes the debate on what defines good legal scholarship.
Andreas Lienhard, Karin Byland and Martin Schmied
Increased requirements of accountability put research institutions and researchers under pressure to introduce standards for research evaluation. This also applies to legal research in Switzerland. This chapter analyses the procedures and criteria employed for the evaluation of academic legal publications in different contexts. Findings show that in most contexts, academic legal publications are being assessed by (simple) peer review procedures. Double-blind peer review remains rare, as well as the use of bibliometric methods and indicators. Moreover, attempting to counter the shortcomings of peer review with bibliometrics is not a solution. Criteria of how to assess academic legal publications are not communicated in detail or remain general. However, the quality of academic legal publications is often assessed by the “implicit knowledge” of the reviewers, but there is no consensus among researchers on how to define, let alone, measure quality. We therefore argue that there is room for increasing the transparency of evaluation criteria and procedures in Switzerland.
Rob van Gestel and Marnix Snel
Dutch legal research is in flux. Not only is there an increasing diversity of approaches (doctrinal, comparative, empirical etc.) but traditional legal research is also showing more and more attention to the multi-layered character of European law and to the socio-economic context in which the law is applied and enforced. At the same time, research evaluation methods do not seem to hold pace with these developments. Journals and publishers are still struggling with quality indicators and review procedures (e.g. editorial review, blind peer review, open review). Due to the emphasis in the national research assessment and in the internal research assessment guidelines of law schools, legal scholars are increasingly torn between two worlds: the practice-oriented national discourse, which requires writing for professionals in Dutch and a focusing on a more international, multidisciplinary, and theoretical discourse which demands writing for English language law journals and international publishers. In order to be promoted, Dutch legal scholars are also increasingly forced to apply for external research funding. Here legal scholars have to deal with the fact that their research proposals are usually assessed by mixed panels of social scientists, who have great difficulties with the fact that legal scholars are not used to make their implicit methods and theories more explicit for a broader audience. Moreover, assessment panels cannot rely on more formal quality indicators, such as the ranking of journals and publishers where legal scholars publish their work, because there is no European ranking of law journals or book publishers. The questions is also whether legal scholars should adapt to the (bibliometric) evaluation practices that are common in the social and natural sciences or should try to come up with their own evaluation systems, which can be tailored to the specificities of the discipline. Whatever the choice is that law as a discipline is going to make, we have to be careful not to end up in an academic ‘audit society’ in which performance evaluation becomes a goal in itself
Daithí Mac Síthigh
The United Kingdom has seen many developments in the funding of academic research in recent decades. These changes bring with them influential models of evaluation, including the cyclical rating of selected publications, the assessment of case studies of societal and economic impact, and the awarding of an increasingly significant share of the national research budget on the basis of the review of proposals (not just to open calls but to targeted opportunities for research on particular topics). With over 100 institutions now teaching law in the UK, there is significant variation between law schools. Yet there are areas where there is little by way of standardisation, including the policies adopted by journal editors for evaluating submissions, and the assessment of staff for possible promotion to a higher grade. In this chapter, the particular impact of REF and the research councils on the evaluation of legal research, and the interaction between the two models of review, is emphasised.