, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 71–91 | Cite as

Measuring changes in publication patterns in a context of performance-based research funding systems: the case of educational research in the University of Gothenburg (2005–2014)

  • Linda SīleEmail author
  • Raf Vanderstraeten


We present a novel way to frame a discussion of changes in publication patterns that occur in a context of performance-based research funding systems (PRFSs). Adopting an approach derived from social epistemology, we foreground the dialectical nature of knowledge. This allows us to relate changes in publication patterns to PRFS and show the tensions that emerge between relatively diverse research fields with diverse publication practices and bibliometric indicators within PRFSs that reinforce a singular view of research goals. Specifically, we highlight that the employment of bibliometric indicators result in a fixed hierarchy among communication media that may be at odds with the goals within research fields subjected to PRFSs. These ideas are illustrated with an empirical analysis of changes in publication patterns within the field of educational research at the University of Gothenburg (GU; 2005–2014) in Sweden. We contrast the observed changes with implicit priorities in the national and institutional PRFS that operate in this context since 2009. Findings from bibliometric analysis indicate a move away from publication traditions that used to be characteristic of educational research: the growth in the number of journal articles is greater than that in the number of book chapters, while the number of reports is on a declining slope. In relation to PRFSs, we show that conclusive judgement on the desirability of the observed changes is hardly achievable. If one adopts the aims implicit in PRFS, research performance appears to be enhanced. If one sides with the views of many educational researchers, then some of the trends might be an indication of undesirable changes.


Publication patterns Bibliometric indicators Research performance Educational research Sweden Social epistemology 

Mathematics Subject Classification


JEL Classification




The authors thank Tim C.E. Engels, Raf Guns, Sverker Lindblad, Gustaf Nelhans, and Ernst D. Thoutenhoofd, among others, for their critical remarks which have helped to develop the ideas presented here.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 23 kb)


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for R&D Monitoring (ECOOM), Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Department of SociologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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