There is a bit of “don’t question our behaviour, trust us” to the proposals in the Stern review and the recommendations about non-portability (“Stern might change the rules, but the REF game is still a game”, Opinion, 11 August); people who benefited from a research excellence framework transfer window think, now that they are in charge of institutions, that it’s a terrible idea and needs to be removed. The ones making the policy will never have to experience its consequences and are blithely certain that this will end gaming rather than creating new games tilted in favour of institutions over early career researchers.
The REF window was absurd, but non-portability is not the answer. What I write now builds on what came before; indeed, there are a couple of back-burner articles that were mostly written three years ago at a different institution. I’d like to give them credit, but not at the expense of my current one. Without a mechanism for sharing outputs we will always have a system in which institutions seek to maximise their claim over high-producing academics and minimise their claim over those seen as “weak”.