Infos and News
New preprint published (November 2023)
Structural similarity, or isomorphism, has not been quantitatively examined for the organizational field of public universities in Germany. Based on the Relative Specialization Index, this paper introduces three ideal-type distributions as a heuristic tool to identify whether a higher education landscape is isomorphic or not, and whether its institutional structure has become more isomorphic over time. Using several variables, including professorial staff, students and funding, we present measurements for isomorphism. We present evidence that non-technical universities (NTUs) have more isomorphic structures than technical universities (TUs), and that NTUs have become more isomorphic over time. Our findings and future research options are discussed in the light of the two dominant theories in higher education studies: population ecology theory and neo-institutional organization theory.
New preprint published (November 2023)
This paper aims at understanding continuity and change at public universities in Germany with a focus on the growth (and decline) of subject fields. We apply three theoretical perspectives to investigate how disciplinary profiles, size, age and prestige are associated with structural change of the university landscape. Despite the relative stability with respect to the four main disciplinary groups (humanities, natural sciences, engineering and social sciences), non-technical universities (NTUs) have experienced more structural change than technical universities (TUs). At the same time the natural sciences are shrinking while the social sciences are growing. We find that larger and older universities host disciplines affected by decline while smaller and younger universities embrace growing disciplines. In addition, while NTUs supported by the German Excellence Initiative exhibit a stronger disciplinary profile in the natural sciences, universities without such support (both NTUs and TUs) are more social sciences-oriented.
New preprint published (November 2023)
This paper presents a classification of teaching and research fields at universities that allows an unbiased calculation of disciplinary profiles using heat maps. This new classification and the disciplinary profiles derived from it are based on the Activity Index (AI), which can be converted by an appropriate transformation into an index with symmetric value range (RESP). Using public universities in Germany as an example, we show why both AI and RESP values are biased when data sets with many missing or zero values are used, how such a bias manifests itself, and how the new classification enables a bias-free calculation of disciplinary profiles.
New paper published (November 2023)
This paper examines practices of generating reliable evidence for decision-making using the example of bibliometric research assessment. We analyze how bibliometric methods have been implemented in the national evaluations of higher education institutions in the Netherlands and Italy. The selection of these two countries is based on a comprehensive meta-evaluation of bibliometric assessment practices in Europe in the period 2005 –2019. We argue that these two countries represent opposite poles with regard to possible approaches for the construction of reliable expert knowledge. The case of the Netherlands (Strategy Evaluation Protocol) can be characterized as a model of bibliometric professionalism that has had an enhancing efect on university autonomy and has over time led to broad acceptance of bibliometric indicators among academic disciplines. In contrast, the case of Italy (Valutazione della Qualità della Ricerca) represents a centralistic bureaucratic model that, while coopting elites from academic disciplines, has met with harsh methodological criticism from bibliometric experts. We apply Andrew Abbott’s sociology of professions to the feld of evaluative bibliometrics in order to analyze the diferences between the two country cases.
Jappe, A, Heinze, T. (2023): Verlässliches Expertenwissen für die Hochschulpolitik? Aktuelle Befunde zur bibliometrischen Forschungsevaluation in Europa. In: Böschen S., Nordmann A., Reinhardt C. (Eds.) Wissenschaft in der Verlässlichkeitsfalle? Praktiken der Konstruktion von Relevanz und Neutralität. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft Stuttgart.
New paper published (April 2023)
This paper discusses the SEU approach with regard to its “jurisdiction”; i.e. where it should and where it should not be applied. It is argued that the SEU approach must address the fundamental tension between exploration and exploitation; that it should be applied only to disciplines or fields that have low degrees of both technical and strategic uncertainties; and that funders need to prevent the SEU approach from spilling over to evaluations of exploratory projects, for which it is clearly not suited. In addition, the paper argues that the SEU approach needs to respond to the “fund people, not projects” argument. Finally, it calls for many more empirical and preferably experimental studies with the aim of shedding light on how the SEU approach works in practice. In this regard, novel techniques should be used more frequently than today, such as specification curve analysis that encompasses all reasonable explanatory specifications that are both theoretically consistent and statistically valid and non-redundant.
Heinze, T. (2023): The jurisdiction of the subjective expected utility (SEU) approach to risk-taking in science – A response to Franzoni and Stephan (2023), ‘uncertainty and risk-taking in science’. Research Policy 52(3). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2022.104708
New Handbook Chapter (August 2022): Research funding in the context of high institutional stratification. Policy scenarios for Europe based on insights from the United States.
This paper argues that stratified structures in university systems should be addressed more explicitly in debates on research funding. The paper connects findings from several streams of literature on US-American research universities: (a) the relationship of organizational status and scientific quality, (b) positional competitions among elite universities, (c) concentration of research funding, and (d) faculty exchange networks as measures of university prestige. Taken together, these literatures reveal a crystalline hierarchy with intense competition for scientific talent at the top but little opportunity for upward institutional and personal mobility. While elite universities provide advantages in terms of research output and prestige, the findings point to social closure as a potentially problematic outcome for a democratic knowledge society. Therefore, the comparison highlights two policy challenges by means of two scenarios: closing the gap in organizational resources, while at the same time ensuring continuing expansion of the research university system in Europe.
Jappe, A., Heinze, T. (2023): Research funding in the context of high institutional stratification. Policy scenarios for Europe based on insights from the United States. In: Lepori B., Jongbloed B., Hicks, D. (Eds.) Handbook of Public Research Funding. Edward Elgar.
New Paper (July 2022): Innovation Crisis in Public Theater? A Longitudinal Study of Theaters in North Rhine-Westphalia
This paper examines cultural innovations in German public theaters using North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) as the most populated region as an example. Though existing analyses, including social structure-centered audience research, have focused on the demand side, diagnosing a steady decline and aging of the cultural audience, our analysis addresses the supply side, especially the number of premieres and first performances and their adoption into the repertoire. The results show that recent efforts by public theaters to increase both the number of venues and the number of plays on the municipal or regional level have not been sufficient to stabilize the declining audience. Too few new plays are scheduled, even fewer of which make it into the repertoire. Our results suggest that theaters can retain their capability for renewal only by placing significantly more new plays and attracting new audience members. With regard to such renewal, decentralized competition as a characteristic of the NRW theater landscape seems a favorable institutional context.
Glasow, M., Heinze, T. (2022): Innovationskrise im staatlichen Theatersektor? Eine Längsschnitt-Analyse für Theater in Nordrhein-Westfalen, 1995–2018. KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 74(2), 203–232.
Glasow, M., Heinze, T. (2022): Innovation Crisis in Public Theater? A Longitudinal Study of Theaters in North Rhine-Westphalia, 1995-2018. KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 74(2), 203–232.
New Paper (April 2022): Two-dimensional mapping of university profiles in research
There are size-leveling indexes used to demonstrate profiling of entities in different fields, such as the Activity Index (AI) or the Index of Relative Specialization (RESP). Concentrating on the RESP, we consider German state universities as entities and their academic disciplines as fields. While it is common to illustrate several RESP values concurrently using heatmaps, we show that an interpretation of such heatmaps without further information can be misleading. Therefore, we introduce a weight for each RESP value that represents the fraction of a field at a university. Those weights correspond to RESP values that are uniquely identifiable by field and university, resulting in tuples of RESP values and their weights. We introduce a new kind of heatmap that not only illustrates RESP values but represents their corresponding weights. Those new heatmaps are less misleading than classical ones. Our introduction of a new class of heatmaps improves heatmap representation, especially for longitudinal RESP data without the need for additional tables to show the extra information.
New DFG Project (March 2022): Political upheavals and their influence on the development of mathematics.
How did mathematics develop in Germany between the years 1920 and 1960 under the impression of political upheavals? Professors Dr. Volker Remmert and Dr. Thomas Heinze at the University of Wuppertal are investigating this central question in a new joint project. They are receiving a total of 650,000 euros in funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Click here for the BUW press release.
New Paper (Jan 2022): National and organizational patterns of Nobel laureate careers in physiology/medicine, physics, and chemistry
This paper examines the distribution of Nobel laureates in Physiology/Medicine, Physics, and Chemistry across countries and research organizations. We provide basic information about where future laureates received their education and/or conducted their research, then present heat maps depicting country and organizational specialization patterns. In addition, we identify the organizational ultra-elite in science: universities and research institutes that show continuously above-average numbers of future laureates, typically in one career phase. Furthermore, we identify those universities and research institutes that have undergone considerable growth (or decline) in their capabilities for highly innovative research. Also, we compare country-specific profiles with those at the organizational level. Our findings are interpreted in the light of findings from comparative-historical studies.
Heinze, T., Fuchs, J.E. (2022). National and organizational patterns of Nobel laureate careers in physiology/medicine, physics, and chemistry. Scientometrics, 127(12), 7273-7288. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-021-04250-0
16th Annual Conference of Gesellschaft für Hochschulforschung (Sept 2021)
Arlette Jappe and Thomas Heinze contributed a paper to the 16th Annual Conference of the "Gesellschaft für Hochschulforschung" (GfHf), Sept 2021.
Professionalism of bibliometric research evaluation using the example of the Netherlands and Italy
Abstract: This presentation describes the construction and use of bibliometric information in the evaluation of university research in the Netherlands and Italy. The selection of these two cases is based on an extensive meta-analysis of bibliometric evaluation practices in Europe in the period 2005-2019, investigating which methods can be considered as de facto standards of bibliometric quality measurement and which social actors defined these standards. Beyond the methods of bibliometric information gathering, the paper also addresses the question of systematic control effects inherent in the institutional design of the respective university evaluation procedures. Our thesis is that the Netherlands and Italy can be considered opposite cases, both in terms of the professional development of evaluative bibliometrics, and in terms of respect for higher education autonomy within the regularly recurring evaluation process. Actors in German higher education research and policy can learn from the comparison of these two neighboring European countries about the successful use of bibliometric data to support the quality development of university research and about the problems that can arise if evaluation procedures are institutionalized too rigidly.
18th International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics (July 2021)
Thomas Heinze and Joel E. Fuchs contributed two papers and one poster to the 18th Conference of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI), July 2021.
Fuchs, J.E., Heinze, T. (2021): Two-Dimensional Mapping of University Profiles in Research. ISSI2021: 18th International Conference on Scientometrics & Informetrics, KU Leuven, Belgium, 12–15 July 2021, pp. 425-434.
Heinze, T., Fuchs, J.E. (2021): National and Organizational Patterns of Nobel Laureate Careers in Physiology/Medicine, Physics and Chemistry. ISSI2021: 18th International Conference on Scientometrics & Informetrics, KU Leuven, Belgium, 12–15 July 2021, pp. 517-526.
10th EUSPRI Conference (June 2021)
Arlette Jappe and Thomas Heinze contributed a paper to the 10th Conference of the "European Forum for Studies of Policies for Research and Innovation" (EUSPRI), 10.-11.6.2021.
Effects of funding on the stratification of universities. Comparing Europe with the United States
Abstract: This paper argues that stratified structures in university systems should be addressed more explicitly in debates on research funding in the context of higher education (HE). Is a steeply stratified academic system with a stable set of distinguished elite institutions the best answer to the growing demand for knowledge in democratic and globalized societies? The paper connects findings from three streams of literature: (a) network analysis in quantitative science studies, (b) resource concentration in the US-American HE system, and (c) research to construct and analyse a common database for European higher education institutions (HEIs). The literature on US-American research universities reveals a crystalline hierarchy with intense competition for scientific talent at the top but little opportunity for upward institutional and personal mobility. We conclude that while there seem to be large cumulative advantages in terms of research output and prestige to be gained by differentiating a segment of outstanding elite organizations, rich-core ordering as characteristic of the US-American system also presents challenges for the role of science in liberal democracies: intellectual closure through control of faculty positions by a small number of central HEIs, and social closure through a failure to significantly expand the supply of the best research-based education to meet increasing demand.