The Research Assessment Exercise will affect the distribution of considerable sums of public money, and involve issues of fairness to institutions and ultimately to individuals.
Last time the unelected panels met in secret, and issued no written reports explaining the basis for individual departments' gradings there was no possibility of appeal against their decisions. May I therefore issue a challenge to the chairpersons of these panels: which of you is prepared to allow a group of observers to attend your meetings? And if not, why not?
ANDREW FLEMING Reader in archaeology University of Wales, Lampeter