Move to make broader RAE

April 2, 1999

Rules for the research assessment exercise are to be rephrased to encourage academics to submit a broader range of work.

But those who submit fewer than four pieces of research will not necessarily be penalised.

John Rogers, who manages the RAE for all the higher education funding councils, said: "We are encouraging all types of research output to be treated equally."

His comments came after David Pilsbury, head of research at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, told a meeting that HEFCE is looking at the effects that the RAE has on publishing. The number of articles submitted to journals rockets in the run-up to the RAE deadline.

"The division of outputs into five categories - articles, authored books, chapters in books, conference papers and others - has led to some unfortunate misunderstandings," Mr Rogers said. "For example, it has never been the case that researchers cannot submit patents. In principle, any type of research output can be included. In the performing arts that might include a performance, exhibition, artefact or designed piece."

He added that RAE rules should allow staff working on valuable long-term projects to be able to submit fewer than four pieces of work.

The funding councils use the RAE to assess how much research money each institution receives. Panels of experts assess each subject area every four to five years. The next exercise will be in 2001.

Academic departments should not be forced to submit a minimum proportion of their researchers to gain the top grade in the RAE, HEFCE has told the Department for Education and Employment.

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