Laurie Taylor Column

February 10, 2006

As part of a new service, this column will regularly devote space to answering questions about critical aspects of the next research assessment exercise. This week's question comes from Dr "P" of the University of Poppleton:

I understand that RAE panels will consider a variety of personal circumstances that might have affected an individual's ability to produce as much research work as appropriate during the assessment period. What exactly are these?

An extended account may be found in RAE 2008: Panel Criteria and Working Methods . Check out page 11 of the Generic Statement under Staffing Issues (Section 39, subsections a, b, c, d, e, f, and g). Here, though, are the most relevant circumstances:

1. Family and domestic matters, including absence on maternity, paternity, parental or adoption leave.

2. Time spent acting as a carer.

3. Disability, ill health and injury.

4. Status as an early-career researcher.

5. Career breaks for purposes unconnected with research.

6. Total paralysis of the will from trying to accommodate extra research demands alongside extra teaching and extra administration.

7. Disconcerting waves of nostalgia for the time when trust lay at the heart of academic life (minimum of six waves).

8. An overwhelming gut feeling that the RAE has a bureaucratic self-justifying life of its own that subverts any attempt by critics to demonstrate its fundamental lack of validity and reliability.

9. General hysteria brought on by the readiness of serious academics to accept the higher nonsense of management theory.

10. Uncontrollable fits of rage induced by the recognition that the entire research exercise will once again benefit the same high status institutions and departments (minimum of 12 fits).

NB Please note that individuals citing circumstances in Sections 6-10 will be required to enclose a relevant doctor's note. We hope this clarifies the situation.

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