Citations - a novel index

May 22, 2008

Each week as I read Times Higher Education I am careful not to look at the back page until I have dutifully perused the rest of the magazine. Then, having treated myself to The Poppletonian, my eye is caught by the index at the bottom of the page, and I look to see how often my own institution has been mentioned in your pages. This week, I see in the index (15 May) that Birmingham is mentioned on pages 75 and 82, and I had spotted our ad on page 82 a few minutes earlier. Imagine my disappointment when I turn to page 75 and I see Lancaster, Strathclyde and Cardiff featured but no mention of Birmingham! I check back to the index and, yes, I've got the right page - and then I notice that Cambridge is listed four times (in truth, I expected nothing less), and Cardiff an impressive five times. Then it strikes me that here may be an answer to the vexed question of what to do next time round instead of the research assessment exercise and since the research excellence framework is proving so elusive. It's probably as good a way as any of distributing public money, although you'd have to be prepared for some institutional game-playing, with vice-chancellors vying with each other to get their institutional share of your column inches ... and you might also have to tighten up on the proofreading. (We're on page 74.)

Adrian Buckley, University of Birmingham.

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