Santa subject to debate

January 1, 2009

Thank you for bringing to our attention the ten most cited papers on Santa Claus research ("Santa Claus research: the ten most cited papers", 18 December). While several of these pre-date by many years even the first research assessment exercise, I think we should acknowledge that all would have scored at least 2*, given the international significance of the subject matter. But to which units of assessment would the submissions have been made?

Some tough decisions would have been required as to whether the paper on "Children's belief in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy" would have been submitted under theological studies/divinity/religious studies, or education. I'm sure the dentistry panel would have found something of interest.

"What is the meaning of Santa Claus?" was published in a sociology journal but would surely have been cross-referred to philosophy.

Of course, as we turn attention to the REF, they would have to do better than four and eight citations, respectively.

Tony Gatrell, Lancaster University.

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