Change rules to end game-play

September 29, 2006

The intense optimisation activity surrounding preparations for the research assessment exercise wastes much time that academics could better spend on research and teaching. That three of my colleagues have now read my four papers is no consolation. This activity is a necessary consequence of how the RAE scores are to be announced: a distribution of what fraction of the work submitted was judged to be 4*, 3* and so on.

As far as we can tell, funding will depend only on the numbers of submitted outputs in each category. But university managers who have no control over how league tables may be derived from these are right to be fearful.

There is a simple way that The Times Higher can help here. Announce that you will compile a league table taking into account the staff who were not returned for assessment. Such a move would compel university managers to submit all their academic staff for assessment and stop the silly game-playing.

Mahesan Niranjan
Sheffield University

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