Credit union

August 11, 2016

I have a hard time seeing how Lord Stern’s review of the research excellence framework doesn’t just create a new set of rules to be gamed, with power having largely been shifted from individuals to institutions (“Will REF ‘portability’ plans hobble early career academics?”, 30 July).

Of course the institution where the work was done should get credit, but I can’t see how the net effect of this won’t be a pre-REF hiring freeze (don’t bring in anyone you won’t get credit for) and a purge of research contracts (to shift people who are seen as underperforming off the REF books and on to teaching contracts before some arbitrary deadline). If units had to or were able to share outputs so that both got credit – one for producing great researchers, the other for hiring them – then there might be a decline in gaming, but as long as one unit “wins” and another “loses” money because of single individuals then I don’t see how this is a real improvement.

The work I do today, three years after leaving my first institution, is still profoundly informed by (and collaborative with) that unit. Shouldn’t they still get credit? Shouldn’t everyone passing through an institution in a five-year period be included to make every hire count?


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