Long term trends in maritime transport, and the 50 most influential papers in Maritime Economics

By, Jan Hoffmann

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At our 2015 IAME (International Association of Maritime Economists) conference in Kuala Lumpur, I organized a discussion session on the “impact of our work”. I wanted to discuss and promote ways to ensure that our academic research had an impact in the real world. Do businesses and policy makers actually make use of our papers?

For my work at UNCTAD, I have to report annually on indicators of achievement that go beyond “outputs”. Of course outputs (e.g. seminars, studies, statistics) are also counted, but a next step is to measure if our outputs are also used and appreciated. So we count the number of downloads, send out readership surveys, and collect evaluation sheets from workshop participants. But this does not guarantee an impact either. Therefore, as much as possible, we have to show that governments have implemented a policy, improved the performance of a Customs administration, or modernized a port authority “with the help of UNCTAD”. Fortunately, we are usually able to identify such cases, thanks to our direct engagement with national administrations and ministries. In addition, we are required to track existing benchmarks of trade efficiency, such as the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI), the Doing Business (DB) indicator, or UNCTAD’s Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI), and somehow show that such indices improved from one year to another as a result of our work. The attribution is impossible to prove, but I appreciate that we should at least try.

With these types of examples in mind, at our IAME 2015 conference in Kuala Lumpur, I had thus invited to a special session on the “impact” of the research we publish in our associated journals MEL and MPM, present at our IAME conferences, or dissiminate in our on-line magazine The Maritime Economist.

Well, frankly, the session didn’t quite work out as I had hoped. The discussions were lively and interesting, and we had a good attendance of the session. But after introductions by Hercules Haralambides and myself with some initial ideas on how to achieve an impact in real life, the discussions for most of the 90 minutes regressed to what really matters to the (academic) maritime economist: How can I publish in a high-impact factor journal? Because publishing in high-impact journals helps me to get tenure. Because my financial compensation may vary depending on the number of papers published in indexed journals. Because the impact factor is part of a “vicious cycle“, at the core of the “scientific ecosystem“. It appeared that researchers think that their “impact” is measured by their “impact factor”.

By, Jan Hoffmann

To read the full article visit the following link

Source Jan Hoffmann

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