Wrong coordinates

December 23, 2010

David Barton is wrong to say that I "attempt to belittle" the five published case studies from the research excellence framework impact pilots in English language and literature ("Beyond the boundaries", Letters, 16 December).

I offered no view about the intrinsic quality or value of the work described in them, most of which, as a literary scholar, I would not be competent to assess. My point was to draw attention to facts that are relevant to the value or otherwise of the pilot exercise in this area.

First, specialised research institutes are not English departments, but most units submitting in this category will be, so it is unhelpful that 40 per cent of the published impact material comes from such institutes.

Second, history is not English. And third, the majority of those teaching and researching in English departments work on literature, so it is not helpful that such a small proportion of the published material is about literature.

Peter Barry, Professor of English, Aberystwyth University.

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