Class citations (1 of 2)

October 6, 2011

It was a relief to read Andrew Oswald's article on the research excellence framework ("Data be damned: REF's blueprint for systemic intellectual corruption", 22 September).

I am among a small group of academics who believe that the research assessment exercise and its predecessors were wonderful innovations because they cut across established prejudices in the academy: the sciences could no longer be automatically superior in every university, nor all departments in Oxbridge automatically better than all departments elsewhere. But the class system is insidious, and now small groups of academics are insisting on their special sensibility when it comes to judging quality, scorning the plebs who use instruments to measure.

These measures are not perfect, but neither are the sensibilities of an aristocracy. We need both metrics and peer review, and we need the REF panels to be forced to debate in those cases where there is disagreement between the approaches. It is so easy.

But the way arguments against multiple indicators always set the failures of the plebs against the baseline of unquestioned aristocratic judgement is to be reminded, once again, of country houses and sherry in the library.

Harry Collins, Distinguished research professor, Cardiff University

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 3 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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy