Words, not numbers 2

December 22, 2006

If only the cartoon that accompanied Ole Petersen's article were accurate. You show a scientist standing on top of what appears to be a pile of books.

But books don't cut the mustard in the research assessment exercise - not for scientists and those in "hard" social sciences such as economics. In these disciplines, journal articles are not just preferred, they are virtually compulsory.

Petersen's excellent article refers only to papers, not to books. May I make a plea for the post-RAE "bibliometric indicator of quality" to include books? Driving scholars to write only papers denies students the textbooks they need, denies the general public insight into scholarly thinking and denies academics themselves the platform to make ground-breaking statements.

The journals "game", taken to its extreme, can result in narrowness, caution and inconsequential victory.

Richard Baggaley
Publishing director - Europe
Princeton University Press

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