It is sad, but perhaps not surprising that in a desperate search for the holy grail of top research assessment exercise ratings some universities are employing "phantom" staff ("Paid to be on RAE stand-by", November 2). But one wonders whether the universities pursuing such policies have thought through all possible consequences of such a high- risk strategy. The, mostly US, academics, who are being hired to massage the RAE submissions have high profiles and will be easily identified by the RAE panel members. That is why the universities seeking to spice up their submissions in this way should first find out whether such attempts to hoodwink the panels, if detected, would carry any penalties.
Dipak Ghosh, Stirling University.