Extra assessment panel plea suceeds

April 7, 1995

An extra research assessment panel has been created following representations from academics in the fields concerned.

When the Higher Education Funding Council for England unveiled plans last year for the 1996 research assessment exercise, they envisaged a single panel for library, communication and media studies.

But they have now accepted arguments that there should be two panels - one for library and information management and the other for cultural, communication and media studies.

Paul Hubbard, the HEFCE official responsible for the 1996 exercise, said: "After representations we were convinced that there are two distinct subject areas which should be treated separately. This has been reinforced by the nominations for the panels, in which virtually everyone nominated has fallen clearly into one category or the other."

The decision reflects the emphasis on management rather than systems in the library category and also the emergence of cultural studies as a distinctive sub-discipline: "A lot of academics now categorise themselves as in cultural studies and the chair of the panel was happy to cover it along with the other subjects," said Mr Hubbard.

Other groups who have appealed for reclassification are unlikely to be so successful. Economic historians in particular have protested against the abolition of their separate panel and their incorporation into history. But HEFCE does not expect to agree any further changes.

HEFCE is now in the process of setting up the panels, whose membership will be revealed in late May. All the panel chairs have now been agreed, with about half continuing from the same role in the 1992 exercise. Panels are expected to contain between a third and a half of the 1992 membership, with the aim of combining continuity with fresh faces.

The first task facing the panels will be to agree on their criteria and assessment methods, which will be published by the end of October.

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