|Mobilizing science for global food security. Third External Review of IFPRI (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research ) (1998)|
|Chapter 3 - Cross-Cutting Themes|
|3.2 Quality of Research|
There is no formal incentive system for research and publication quality. Yet, it is clear that for a researcher to have a good publication record is a major asset in salary discussions, either within IFPRI or outside, as well as for future employability. The internal institutional culture also plays a large role in maintaining a high demand for quality, as was made apparent by the number and the nature of interventions during the 1997 internal review.
A bibliometric study, showing that IFPRIs publications are often quoted and given authority provides quantitative evidence of the relevance and implied quality of these criteria (see also Section 3.3 on impacts).
However, the system of quality control also has its costs, both financial and intellectual. In terms of financial costs, the time devoted to reading and correcting manuscripts can be significant in IFPRI, and to some extent contributes to the allegedly high cost of an IFPRI internationally recruited researcher.
In terms of intellectual cost, the review process, although extremely efficient in avoiding dramatic mistakes and the publication of unwarranted statements, is also at risk of preventing new shocking ideas to be expressed publicly. For instance, it can very well be imagined that the early works of Louis Pasteur on microbiology would have been refused by the IFPRI reviewing system, had the latter been operational at the time, simply because his ideas were unacceptable then. There are no indisputable ways of avoiding the risk of rebuffing a good manuscript, except by carefully choosing broad and open minded reviewers. The Panel is, however, satisfied that IFPRI has often called into question commonly accepted principles.
Whatever the financial (opportunity) and intellectual costs of quality control because of the necessary large commitment of time, these costs, must be incurred, otherwise research would lack all justification. Furthermore, there are some hidden benefits that researchers derive from review of their peers work. First, they keep abreast of what others in their fields are doing and thinking. Second, even an experienced researcher can learn from a thorough review of a colleagues work.