Rethink on arts

October 13, 2006

The expert group looking at how to use metrics to judge research quality in the arts and humanities said this week that half the judgment should be based on peer review of research outputs, after pressure from the academic community, writes Anthea Lipsett.

The group, set up by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England to explore alternative ways to assess research, said initially that research outputs should count for 30 points on a 100-point scale.

But the group this week said that outputs should count for 50 per cent of the quality judgment.

The remaining 50 per cent should be judged with a "portfolio of metrics" including: spend on research infrastructure; wider social, cultural and economic significance of research process; PhD completions per research-active member of staff; peer-reviewed external research income; and esteem indicators.

The group recommended a light-touch approach to peer review by reducing the number of categories assessed and drawing on peer reviewers from the research councils and abroad.

The group said that any new system relying more heavily on metrics would have to be mapped against the results of the 2008 exercise to win confidence.

The Economic and Social Research Council said citation analysis as a metric would not work for the social sciences.

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