Same old boys' club

January 31, 2008

New format ... same old boys' club? Bravo to your readers and contributors for pointing this out (Letters and opinion, 24 January). But it is worth making a special point about your crisp and colourful new visuals. Excluding book jackets and advertising, categorising all other pictures reveals, roughly speaking, "female", 30 "neutral" and 76 "male" images in the first three new issues. Regardless of whether this can be said in any way to fairly or accurately reflect the present gendering of academia, the newly heightened impact of what is hardly a new editorial policy will surely further entrench the attitudes so splendidly enshrined in the Times Higher Education's editorial board.

Perhaps not so different, then, to the cumulative long-term effect of "journal impact factor" on the measurement of research output quality? Which brings me to your new bibliometrics column. Thank you for putting me in touch with my inner trainspotter, but must the sciences always get all the attention?

Numerous academic information databases double as valuable bibliometrics sources for the non-sciences. Worldcat and Getcited in particular have some terrific features that could usefully inform a dedicated research excellence framework database. It would be great to see the occasional THE "Hot Papers/Top 10" featuring the humanities. Or not so occasional, given the gender implications.

M. A. Katritzky, The Open University.

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