Abstract：Since the beginning of this century, there have been fierce debates in the field of Chinese higher education research over the quantity-based professional evaluation system in Chinese universities. Unfortunately there is no empirical evidence to assess either positively or negatively the performance of this reform. This paper tries to provide some empirical evidences on how academic promotion affects academic production at the individual faculty level in Chinese universities in an era of quantity-based evaluation system. We examine how an individual faculty member changes his/her academic output after the adoption of the quantity-based promotion system in his/her three sequential academic positions of lecturer, associate professor, and full professor respectively, with respect to both the quantity and the quality of research publications.
We manually collect the individual career and academic output data of 114 professors of economics at 12 top universities who went through three sequential academic positions from lecturer to full professor between the years of 2003 and 2019. For each faculty we construct the quantity and quality indicators using information of the authors’ position in the research paper and the impact factor of the journal in which the paper is published. We also manually collect the eligibility information of the quantity-based promotion system in each stage of promotion from each university’s website. We construct the pressure index at the position and university level using the eligibility information of promotion. The lecturers’ (associate professors’) pressure index measures the difficulty for them to be promoted to associate professors (full professors respectively) at their university. And we let full professors pressure index be 0. We find that associate professors face the highest promotion pressure.
First, for each economist the quality of academic output increases with academic positions. In the stage of associate professor, he/she faces fierce promotion pressure, while the quality of his/her academic output is not at the highest level. After he/she becomes full professor, he/she has the least promotion pressure and produces high-quality papers.
Second, the economics professors exhibit no significant difference in the number of academic publications at each stage of their academic position. They always pursue the quantity of publications at each stage. Even in the stage of full professor with minimum pressure, low-quality papers still account for nearly 70% of their publications. With the promotion to the more advanced position, there exists no fundamental change in distortions. These professors of economics pursue the quantity of publication with low quality. The promotion pressure is a crucial reason to distort economists’ academic production in Chinese universities. We test this mechanism by introducing the promotion pressure index into the mediating effect model. Empirical evidences show that high-quality academic output mainly comes from the relaxation of the promotion pressure. Professors produce high-quality paper in the low-pressure environment. The environment with high promotion pressure shaped by the quantity-based evaluation system is an important reason of the short-term behavior of academic production in Chinese universities.
These empirical findings exhibit very significant policy implications. It is important to relax the promotion pressure and provide a liberal academic environment for academic staff for the improvement of academic research quality in Chinese universities. For this purpose, it is necessary to introduce reforms of the quantity-based evaluation system in Chinese universities.
金祥荣、晁嵩蕾、罗德明、盛沛锋. 大学教师的职称晋升与学术生产行为[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 0, (): 1-.
Jin Xiangrong Chao Songlei Luo Deming Sheng Peifeng. Promotion and Academic Production in Chinese Universities. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 0, (): 1-.