In spite of the consensus on the importance of research, the existing literature in hospitality and tourism research does not contain any commonly agreed upon ways of evaluating research performance. The most frequently used proxy for assessing research performance is authorship and institution analyses by counting the number of published articles in selected research journals (Jogaratnam, McCleary, Mena, and Yoo, 2005; Malhotra and Kher, 1996; Sheldon, 1991; Weaver, McCleary, and Farrar, 1990; Zhao and Ritchie, 2006). 4
While counting the number of published articles in selected journals may be simple to perform and interpret, this approach is subject to many methodological problems. Wood (1995), as well as Losekoot, Verginis, and Wood (2001), argued that counting publications in selected journals as an indicator of academic productivity is too narrow and geographically-based.
Similarly, Ryan (2005) and Hall (2005) stated that focusing on publications in research journals would exclude many researchrelated activities such as writing books, supervising postgraduate students, and taking on leadership roles in the international academic community. Likewise, the conjecture which this paper makes is that using the number of published articles in selected tourism and hospitality journals as an indicator of research performance is an incomplete, if not biased approach, as other research-related activities are simply excluded from consideration.
Such a statement is made on the basis that many established academics do not publish in the selected journals. In addition, in order to obtain a more comprehensive measurement of research performance, other scholarly activities such as participation in research projects, editorship of research journals, membership of editorial boards and conference committees, participation in international conferences, and memberships of international/national organisations should also be incorporated into the overall evaluation process.
In response to the absence of prior studies on determining research performance for tourism and hospitality academics in a comprehensive way, this exploratory study makes an attempt to fill the void by investigating the perception of university program heads on the importance of different research-related activities. Program heads are the academics who assume key responsibilities in academic departments or divisions. Examples of these key responsibilities include research leadership and evaluations (Wikipedia, 2006). Findings are thus anticipated to lead to 5 further insights on research performance evaluation, which in turn help academics appropriately set their own career development plans.