FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Economia e Gestão

Unidade de I&D

Unidade de Estudos sobre Complexidade e Economia [ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436] visitada em 24/09/2008

Classificação: Very Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
This research unit gathers a large number of research groups, which seems to reflect more the research interests of individual members, taken as such, than those of the group as a whole. This probably explains why there are so many groups in the unit: 8 research groups with a total of only 25 PhD researchers is certainly an excessive number. It also mirrors the diversity of interests among the members of the unit, without a unifying research theme which could serve as cement for the unit. In particular, the name of the research unit (Studies of Complexity in Economics) has not its objective counterpart (with some specific exceptions) in the research output of the unit. There is also some confusion between the notions of research field, programme, project and group (or team), a confusion which may be responsible for extremely detailed objectives, as we may rather find in submitted research projects.

In spite of these disparities, the unit has a rather satisfying and improving output in terms of the number and quality of its publications, which partly justifies its ranking by the panel as VERY GOOD, with the possibility in the future to become Excellent. Several publications are in good international journals ranked B and C by the Institution (journals like the European Economic Review, Economics Letters, Journal of Banking and Finance, Economic Theory). Not all these publications are equally relevant. In particular, and without denying their hypothetical interest, some of them are out of the mainstream of research in economics, and they require some strong arguments to convince that they could have ever some interest for the economic profession. This is in particular the case of publications in journal of Physics (like Physica or Physics Letters).

The training output, evaluated in terms of the number of theses produced during the period, is rather disappointing, a characteristic shared with many other Portuguese research units, even among the best. On a total of 25 members of PhD’s integrated into the unit over the period, the number of theses produced is equal to 5!

The discussion with the leading members of the unit showed that there is a real attempt to establish a self diagnosis of their situation as a whole, and to define, collectively, an appropriate development strategy. The unit has settled a system of membership criteria, as well as merit based rules of access to research funds, an incentive scheme which is commendable in its principle, even if it involves in the adopted form rather complicated (and possibly manipulable) computations. These measures implemented by the unit for its internal governance have certainly improved its research performance. This implementation should be confirmed in the future because it creates strong incentives to improve the research output.

As in most Portuguese units, it seems that the teaching pressure on the young researchers belonging to the unit is by far too strong. Here, as in many other units, complaints were formulated about this pressure, which does not allow young researchers to pursue their research activity at the period of their life in which they are the most productive.

Even if a seminar series is organised within the unit, it seems unclear whether the unit members do participate on a regular basis. This could be related to some information spreading problems.

The research unit would probably greatly benefit from a better institutional cooperation with other research units, inside and outside ISEG, while this cooperation is presently very weak, except perhaps at the individual level.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Computational Economics [RG-X-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1289]
Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1304]
Financial Economics [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1299]
Game-Theoretic Analysis of Economic Geography [RG-X-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1290]
Labor and Demographic Economics [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1303]
Labour Economics [RG-X-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1291]
Macroeconometric Modelling [RG-X-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1294]
Macroeconomic Theory and Dynamics [RG-X-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1292]
Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1298]
Mathematical and Quantitative Methods [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1297]
Methodology and Complexity in Economics [RG-X-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1293]
Multisectorial Approaches to Growth and Complexity [RG-X-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1295]
Public Economics [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1301]
Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1296]
Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-436-1305]

Comentários da unidade

We are grateful for the comments by the evaluation panel, useful to improve our research. However, we do have some comments.
On the internal organisation of UECE:
- Eligible members are 21, not 25.
- The alleged "confusion between research field, programme and group" lies with FCT, as the Plurianual 2003-06 specified "sub-projects" ("research lines" in 1999-02) not "research groups".
- How can 8 groups for "25" members be considered "certainly an excessive number" (UECE) whilst 7 groups for 21 members be a structure that "makes sense" (CEMPRE)? Nonetheless, we propose an internal reorganisation reducing the number of groups.
On the productivity and relevance of research for 2003-06 we strongly disagree with the relative assessment of the panel. Let us compare the top-five publications of UECE and three centres classified as Excellent: CEFAGE, CEMAPRE, and NIPE. We use two criteria for journals indexed in Econlit: ISI impact factors (IF) and KMS (Kalaitzidakis et al., 2003) weights. Sources: “Economics Research in Portugal” and FCT.
The average IF is equal to 1.77 (1.162-2.211) for UECE, 1.32 (1.168-1.549) for CEFAGE, 1.37 (0.748-1.975) for CEMAPRE, and 1.4 (0.994-1.797) for NIPE.
Using KMS, there are 7.9 AER standardised pages for UECE, 4.4 for CEFAGE, 12.8 for CEMAPRE, and 3.5 for NIPE.
Using the period 2007-08, as the panel did for UNICEE when it refers to the “tendency in the last months”, UECE still leads the IF criterion and keeps the second place in the KMS criterion.
Given the bibliometric evidence and considering that publications in journals like Economic Theory are explicitly considered as “top ranked” by the panel (see UNICEE comments), we conclude that top research at UECE is at least as productive and relevant as other centres classified as Excellent.
We did not understand the remark that some of our publications “required some strong arguments to convince that they could have ever some interest for the economic profession. This is in particular the case of publications in journal of Physics”. Those publications concern financial markets. What may require convincing arguments is that these topics have no interest for the economics profession. Namely, refer to New Scientist beginning 6 June, e.g. “Predicting Financial Crisis: Step aside bankers, this is a job for Physics.” This is a new reality that should not be ignored.