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Do External Funding Sources Affect Research Productivity?: A Departmental-Level Analysis of Seven Former Imperial Japanese Universities

Miyaki, Miki and Okajima, Yuko (2018): Do External Funding Sources Affect Research Productivity?: A Departmental-Level Analysis of Seven Former Imperial Japanese Universities.


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This study examines the research productivity of departments in seven former imperial universities of Japan. We categorize the departments into five academic fields: engineering, health sciences (i.e., medicine, dentistry and pharmaceutical), economics, science, and agriculture. Then, the impact of fundamental and external research funds is examined to see whether they positively affect research productivity—measured by the number of papers accepted in peer-reviewed, international academic journals. Additionally, we investigate whether such external funding sources affect productivity in each of the five fields differently, noting any variation between them.

The estimation results reveal that, first, the increase of fundamental and external funds per faculty member is positively correlated with research productivity in the fields of engineering and health sciences. Second, considering the results of further investigation into the effects of external funding, research funding by the public sector can increase productivity in each of the five academic fields. Third, the results pertaining to private research funds show that research funding provided by firms can increase productivity in engineering and health sciences. However, for economics, the increase in external funding from firms is negatively correlated with research productivity. This result might be because the purpose of industry–university collaboration differs according to the academic field. Regarding economics, the output from the resulting collaboration might not result in the production of an academic paper, but rather make policy recommendations or provide consulting using quantitative analysis.

This study is the first attempt by any Japanese university to analyze research productivity across several departments. The empirical results show that depending on the discipline, the same resources of research funding impact research productivity differently. Nowadays, the Japanese central government has been about the business of reforming resource allocation systems of universities by evaluating their research performance, basing them more on the quantitative indicators such as the key performance indicators (KPI). However, a key result of this study implies that when a relative evaluation of universities is applied, each university’s situation must be more carefully considered, especially in terms of what kinds of academic departments it has, and which specialties or segments it features.

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