Resign or be a traitor

February 17, 2006

Now we learn that some chairs of sub-panels for the research assessment exercise don't like the new ground rules for early-career researchers ("Rules hurt new blood, say liberal arts staff", February 10).

Does anybody who has accepted the RAE shilling seriously imagine that the guidelines have any credibility outside the world of RAE-speak? Why has the sensible acknowledgment of the differences between a major book and a short article in the draft guidelines been removed? Has none of the panel chairs sufficient backbone to protest or resign?

I will have no difficulty being returned in 2008. But I do have worried colleagues who will have published "only" two books since 2001, or who won't have four "outputs" because they have devoted too much of their time to their students in the mistaken belief that this is what universities are for, or who, as new entrants on short-term contracts, have been overloaded with training courses, extra teaching and administrative responsibilities that they dare not refuse.

Let us not pretend that RAE 2008 is going to be anything other than an expensive farce, and let the panellists choose: face up to what they are imposing and resign; or stop complaining and accept that they are traitors to the profession.

Peter Kornicki
Cambridge University

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