Index for the elite 1

April 21, 2006

The attempt by the European Science Foundation to build a European Reference Index for the Humanities is an elitist, secretive process ("Journal index fuels RAE fears", April 7).

The contention that only 20 per cent of journals in any one "discipline" can be placed in category A is nonsense.

In history, a white, male, traditional and Eurocentric bias is evident. The attempt to define what is "proper history" is reflected in the A listing, which includes Agricultural History , Business History and Diplomatic History , while the B list includes Cultural and Social History , Gender and History , International Labour and Working Class History , and Women's History Review .

That these draft listings have been sent to the select few with the statement that they are "confidential" is unacceptable. Such lack of transparency of process should not be tolerated by academics, who could find that such listings could be used as a tick-box mechanism for research assessment exercise purposes.

June Purvis
Portsmouth University

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