Go short term on RAE 1

November 16, 2007

Eric Thomas correctly asks for extensive academic input into the shaping of the new research assessment exercise ("Add input to make metrics count", November 9). The single most important factor underlying the RAE is that it irreversibly shapes the academic environment for the next seven years. It is because of that one fact that so much seems to hang on it - institutional reputations and finances, the careers of senior RAE managers, the careers of each and every individual researcher, the hardening of disciplinary boundaries, and the neglect of novel and interdisciplinary research.

One solution should be evident to any policymaker: reduce the timescale. Have a mini-RAE every year. I have concerns about metrics, not least total reliance on one global corporation, Thompson Scientific, which has already been proven to be prone to errors ("Metrics marred by doubt", September 21).

But if the results of the exercise were not so long term then less would be at stake. It's a no-brainer.

Richard Hull , Senior lecturer, Newcastle University Business School.

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