Groupe de Physique Statistique

Equipe 106, Institut Jean Lamour

                     
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Articles dans des revues à comité de lecture

Critical masses for academic research groups and consequences for higher-education research policy and management
Kenna R., Berche B.
Higher Education Management and Policy 23/3 (2011) 9-29
DOI : 10.1787/hemp-23-5kg0vswcm27g

In this paper we explain recent findings that smaller universities may produce research which is on a par with larger, elite establishments. We do this using a recently developed mathematical model, supported by data from the British and French higher-education research-evaluation exercises. The detailed nature of the UK system, in particular, allows quantification of the notion of critical mass in research. It is shown that research quality increases with group quantity, but only up to a limiting size referred to as the upper critical mass, beyond which increased concentration of resources no longer leads to significant improvements in research quality. The condition for smaller universities to produce top- quality research is that they contain research groups of sizes above the upper critical masses appropriate to their respective disciplines. Policies of concentration of support into progressively fewer, larger institutions are therefore unnecessary for high-quality academic research. Instead, to amplify overall research strength, support for medium-sized groups should be prioritized to help them attain upper critical mass.



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