Why so negative?

September 10, 2015

In the survey referred to in “Modern languages REF results ‘skewed’ by subpanel merger” (News, 27 August), respondents were asked, “Was the change of panel structure a benefit?” To this, 22 respondents said “no” and 22 said “yes”, with one person responding “I don’t know”. So the conclusion in the article that “about half of the 45 scholars who responded would like to see the current structure changed” is correct, but the conclusion “about half of the 45 scholars who responded see the current structure as beneficial” would have been equally appropriate. To use a headline that refers to results having been “skewed” in favour of linguistics, and to use only quotes from those who are negative, seems a disingenuous and unhelpful way of reporting on the survey.

Contrary to the tone of the article, the outcome of the research excellence framework for modern languages and linguistics suggests there is good reason to celebrate the high quality of research in all areas that fall within the sub-panel. In seven precursor research assessment exercise 2008 sub-panels, the percentage of 4* and 3* research identified ranged from 47 per cent to 58 per cent, whereas the same figure for the REF is 72 per cent. It is time to build on the clear international excellence in research identified by the REF in these areas, not least to address challenges relating to recruitment in modern languages as well as the more general issue of building a new public understanding of these subjects.

Kersti Börjars, University of Manchester, chair, subpanel 28
Charles Forsdick, University of Liverpool, deputy chair, subpanel 28

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 3 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

Related articles

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham