NEW procedures to vet working papers before they are published on the ESRI website are to be put in place.
The Irish Independent has learned the changes are being introduced by the economic think-tank following huge controversy over a politically sensitive report.
Professor Frances Ruane, director of the ESRI, said working papers would now be checked before publication online following the furore surrounding the working paper 'The Costs of Working in Ireland'.
Currently, those clicking on to the website of the economic research body can access a list of around 400 working papers on a diverse range of subjects from electric vehicles, international migration to obesity. However, above the link to the papers lies a 'caveat'.
The research body cautions that all of the papers are classed as work-in-progress and as such are un-refereed, with researchers bearing the sole responsibility for their content and any views contained in them.
Prof Ruane said the working paper 'The Costs of Working in Ireland', had not been through ESRI processes and the paper was uploaded for other academics to read and provide feedback.
The director said there would be a norm that working papers would be read by a department head prior to appearing on the department website. However, she said the approach to the lead author on the report, Professor Richard Tol, differed as he was now based at the University of Sussex in the UK and was an experienced researcher.
"Consequently, he put it in directly himself from Sussex and because the work had started at the ESRI it went in without having gone through any other proforma check within the institute," she told RTE radio yesterday.
Prof Tol pointed out that no one had formally reviewed the paper but that a number of people, including senior people at the ESRI, had looked at the paper before it was placed on the website.