‘We have bragging rights!’

January 8, 2015

In a week in which a grand total of 32 vice-chancellors have reportedly boasted in internal emails that their university has become a top 10 UK university based on the recent results of the research excellence framework comes news of a real triumph for Poppleton.

Instead of merely following the honourable examples of other universities and relying on the ranking system that produces the most flattering outcome, Poppleton has developed a wholly new measure of research excellence.

This measure, devised by Brian Bryan, our deputy head of REF strategy, fully takes into account such critical aspects of research assessment as grade point average, research power and research intensity, but then proceeds to complement these rankings with a “research consistency index”.

“You have only to look at the REF results”, explains Mr Bryan, “to see that most universities display inconsistent research scores. A university with a high ranking for metallurgy impact, for example, has a relatively low score for the intensity of its medieval studies. But at Poppleton, we can proudly point to a ‘solid below-average research quality consistency’.”

When this “research consistency rank” is added to the grade point average and the research power ranking and the research intensity ranking and then multiplied by the first number you thought of, Poppleton readily emerges as one of the top 10 UK institutions of higher education.

“It is a major triumph,” claimed Mr Bryan, “something to be set alongside the proud boast by De Montfort University that the REF results had fully confirmed its position as the fourth highest [university] in the East Midlands for its research quality.”


Letter to the editor

Dear Poppletonian,

I have just returned to the university after serving on a subject panel for the REF and been shocked to discover so many attacks upon this exercise in your esteemed organ.

It is, of course, perfectly understandable that you would wish to bring critical attention to bear on an exercise that cost the best part of £60 million and involved 36 disciplinary panels reading and grading 191,232 research outputs by 52,077 academic staff located in 154 higher education establishments.

But what you have totally excluded from your analysis is the sheer enjoyment of serving on one of those REF panels. Yes, it was long and arduous work (although a blessed relief from all that undergraduate teaching), but it had real emotional rewards.

Believe me, there is no more satisfying feeling than that which can be obtained from assessing the research of one’s fellow academics when you lack the time to read their work with any degree of care and possess no expertise whatsoever in their specific research area.

Yours truly,

A REF admirer


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

“Next week’s Tuesday afternoon seminar is specially designed for all those academics who were rated as ‘low on impact’ in the recent REF. Do come along and do your level best to make your presence felt.”


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