Peer-evaluation-based measures of group research quality such as the UK's Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which do not employ bibliometric analyses, cannot directly avail of such methods to normalize research impact across disciplines. This is seen as a conspicuous flaw of such exercises and calls have been made to find a remedy. Here a simple, systematic solution is proposed based upon a mathematical model for the relationship between research quality and group quantity. This model manifests both the Matthew effect and a phenomenon akin to the Ringelmann effect and reveals the existence of two critical masses for each academic discipline: a lower value, below which groups are vulnerable, and an upper value beyond which the dependency of quality on quantity reduces and plateaus appear when the critical masses are large. A possible normalization procedure is then to pitch these plateaus at similar levels. We examine the consequences of this procedure at RAE for a multitude of academic disciplines, corresponding to a range of critical masses.
Bibliographical noteThis is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Research Evaluation following peer review. The version of record Kenna, R. and Berche, B. (2011) Normalization of peer-evaluation measures of group research quality across academic disciplines. Research Evaluation, volume 20 (2): 107-116 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3152/095820211X12941371876625
Kenna, R., & Berche, B. (2011). Normalization of peer-evaluation measures of group research quality across academic disciplines. Research Evaluation, 20(2), 107-116. https://doi.org/10.3152/095820211X12941371876625