Citation not needed

June 25, 2015

The research excellence framework physics subpanel “used” citations only as a secondary source of information and as a sanity check to “inform” the peer review assessment (“Can metrics really replace reviewers in REF?”, Research Intelligence, 18 June). All physics outputs were read by at least two assessors and peer reviewed accordingly.

My attitude as chair of the physics REF panel to citations was predicated on a study that I did before the REF began of the three main citation providers. In a randomly selected sample of about 20 physics papers submitted to the research assessment exercise, I found discrepancies, often large, between the citation numbers returned by each of the three providers. If the input data from the providers are discrepant, how can we ever use citation-based metrics to predict anything other than the broadest of conclusions? In addition, since citations cannot be used in arts subjects and any REF-like exercise must treat all subject areas on as level a playing field as practicable, this whole discussion seems moot.

I agree that there is a substantial cost to the REF in terms of staff time and effort, but while the government insists on an assessment of research, I cannot think of a viable alternative. I would support returning to the old system of quinquennial grants, but I am not holding my breath for the announcement of this nirvana.

Brian Foster
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest