RAE process 'would exclude Nobel laureates'

November 23, 2007

Nobel laureates would have had their papers rejected for the research assessment exercise if the methods used at Queen Mary, University of London, were applied to them, an academic there has claimed.

Santonu Basu, a senior lecturer in banking and finance at Queen Mary's School of Business Management, said that his school is deciding which of its academics' papers to submit to the RAE on the basis of a "crude" indicator of the quality of the journal it was published in.

He is one of two academics in the same field to hit out at such methods this week.

Dr Basu said he nominated his paper "Financial Globalisation: Some Conceptual Problems" for inclusion in the school's RAE submission, but it was rejected on the grounds that it was published in the Eastern Economic Review . This journal does not appear in the Association of Business Schools' Academic Journal Quality Guide, popularly known as the Harvey- Morris list, which the school is using to judge the quality of its entries.

"The school's external assessor seemed to think that as this journal was not in the Harvey-Morris list it must be a minor one in the discipline and scored it zero," Dr Basu told The Times Higher .

But Dr Basu said the journal was far from minor. A number of Nobel laureates and internationally renowned scholars have graced its pages and its publisher, the Eastern Economics Association, counts top US East Coast universities among its members.

Dr Basu says the case went to an appeal hearing but the work was still excluded.

A spokesperson for Queen Mary said: "Recommendations on RAE exclusions are not made by individual staff, but by expert groups who are informed by expert assessors from outside the institution."

In a separate case, an academic in a Russell Group university economics department, who asked not to be named, has also contacted The Times Higher to raise concerns about the use of external journal quality measures to assess the quality of individual papers.

The academic said his department was using a modified version of the Keele ranking, with anything that did not fit excluded. "Nobody knows how the RAE panels will make their decisions so they are really quite arbitrary," the academic said.

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