I am no fan of the research assessment exercise, not least because it tends to regard numbers of outputs in a narrow range of refereed journals as evidence of research quality.
However, the social policy and social work panel has at least attempted to address the issues raised last week (Letters, THES , July 20).
For example, the 1996 panel stated that it would not privilege refereed journal articles over other forms of written output such as unpublished reports for government departments or commissioned work for voluntary organisations.
It indicated that it was concerned to assess the developmental dynamic of research within any submission, looking for evidence of young researchers being supported into the research enterprise. It sought the views of users of research. The 2001 RAE social policy panel has indicated that it will pursue the same broad strategy in its assessment.
Professor of social justice
University of Hull