Fit to judge in the REF?

March 13, 2014

The feature “The REF: how was it for you?” ( February) reports: “Typically, heads of research say that their institutions did this [assessed the quality of research produced by staff] by using a combination of internal and external peer review. One says that their institution used only internal assessment, but with ‘high-level monitoring/calibration’.”

Should careers be damaged and litigation ensue, how might the courts evaluate the credibility of the latter approach? The Defamation Act 2013 provides protection for academic authors and reviewers where “before the statement was published in the journal an independent review of the statement’s scientific or academic merit was carried out by –

(a) the editor of the journal, and
(b) one or more persons with expertise in the scientific or academic matter concerned.”

“Expertise” is the key to protection. So if similar legal approaches were applied by judges to REF claims, where internal approaches (or even external reviewers if asked to cover too broad ground) lack sufficient expertise…

Chris Davies
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

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