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The culture of orphaned texts: Academic books in a performance-based evaluation system

Ludek Broz (Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic)
Tereza Stöckelová (Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 31 October 2018

Issue publication date: 5 November 2018




The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the body of knowledge on how research evaluation in different national and organisational contexts affects, often in unintended ways, research and publication practices. In particular, it looks at the development of book publication in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) in the Czech Republic since 2004, when a performance-based system of evaluation was introduced, up to the present.


The paper builds upon ethnographic research complemented by the analysis of Czech science policy documents, data available in the governmental database “Information Register of R&D results” and formal and informal interviews with expert evaluators and other stakeholders in the research system. It further draws on the authors’ own experience as scholars, who have also over the years participated in a number of evaluation procedures as peers and experts.


The number of books published by researchers in SSH based at Czech institutions has risen considerably in reaction to the pressure for productivity that is inscribed into the evaluation methodology and has resulted in the rise of in-house publishing by researchers’ own research institution, “fake internationalisation” using foreign low-quality presses as the publication venue, and the development of a culture of orphaned books that have no readers.

Practical implications

In the Czech Republic robust and internationally harmonised bibliometric data regarding books would definitely help to create a form of research evaluation that would stimulate meaningful scholarly book production. At the same time, better-resourced and better-designed peer review evaluation is needed.


This is the first attempt to analyse in detail the conditions and consequences the Czech performance-based research evaluation system has for SSH book publication. The paper demonstrates that often discussed harming of SSH and book-writing in particular by performance-based IF-centred research evaluation does not necessarily manifest in declining numbers of publications. On the contrary, the number of books published may increase at the cost of producing more texts of questionable scholarly quality.



The work of Tereza Stöckelová on the paper was supported by Grant No. 15-16452S awarded by the Czech Science Foundation. The authors would like to thank Filip Vostal, Sarah de Rijcke and the two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on earlier versions of the paper and Šárka Loffelmannová for helping with the RIV data preparation.


Broz, L. and Stöckelová, T. (2018), "The culture of orphaned texts: Academic books in a performance-based evaluation system", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 70 No. 6, pp. 623-642.



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