Hefce taken to task 2

July 8, 2005

" Times Higher lowers journalism standards" - how would you feel about such a heading based on the unsubstantiated opinion of a few readers?

I ask because I do not understand either how your headline "RAE raises UK journal activity" (July 1) can be justified or how the organisation responsible (Evidence Ltd) could possibly reach that conclusion. If Evidence Ltd based its conclusions on a study of citations, no one can say more than that this is a correlation with time over a defined period.

First-year students should know that a correlation does not imply causality. Either Evidence Ltd is, despite its name, unable to understand the basics of statistical analysis, or The Times Higher is guilty of inflating the company's correlations into a stated presumption of causality. Either of these represents a serious lowering of standards.

Trevor Stone
Glasgow University

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