Case study contested

May 9, 2013

I have just finished your 25 April edition (I’m on maternity leave so I don’t have the time to tear through the magazine the minute it pops through the letter box) and Paul Magrs’ response to the research excellence framework impact request he received has astonished me (“Re: Case study request”).

First, the tone of the article is plain condescending: I think the pretension and privilege Magrs speaks of has rubbed off more than he realises. More specifically, the individual responsible for the REF at the University of East Anglia may not have been in residence at the time of Magrs’ tenure there and therefore would have had nothing to do with how he was previously treated, making him undeserving of such vitriol.

Second, REF guidelines concerning impact have been enforced on all institutions, meaning that previous members of staff may well be contacted regarding the work they performed in their old workplaces, regardless of how well treated (or otherwise) they were. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Last, Magrs complains about the courses he had to write at UEA and the books he had to produce. I’m guessing that all that was part of the job description, so why the astonishment? No one in the private sector would expect to be thanked for simply doing their job, so why do those in higher education? (And remember: your employer may well own this intellectual property, no matter how personally invested you feel.)

Magrs complains of what he gets in return for all this inconvenience - a salary - something many these days would feel wholly privileged to have.

Alison Hay


Take that, bibliometrics! Take that, impact assessment! Oh, how good to see such an uninhibited opinion about these absurd systems measuring research in the humanities. Good for you, Paul Magrs!

Rosanna Cantavella
Professor of medieval Catalan culture
University of Valencia

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs


Greenwich School Of Management Ltd

PhD Research Fellow in Medical Physics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Senior Knowledge Officer

European Association For International Education

Postdoctoral position in Atmospheric and Space Physics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework

people dressed in game of thrones costume

Old Germanic languages are back in vogue, but what value are they to a modern-day graduate? Alice Durrans writes