Why are universities running scared from metrics-based research assessment? Some 80 to 85 per cent of most science, technology, maths and engineering subjects are being assessed in the research assessment exercise 2008 on the basis of peer review of publications (outputs) and external research income (environment). What is so different with a metrics-based approach?
A publication citations metric is generated on the basis of peer review and quotation of research papers by those most directly involved in that field of research. An external income metric is generated on the basis of research grant awards that are intensively peer reviewed by the funding bodies (those that are not should be ineligible). Deploying these two metrics objectively for research assessment is no different in methodology from the present RAE.
If universities really hanker after that extra piece of reassuring subjectivity, then by all means let there be evaluation panels to police the metrics. Plus ça change .
RAE adviserThe Institute of Cancer Research