Return to the RAE

December 18, 1998

An article by Alison Goddard (THES, December 11) covers our interim report on interdisciplinarity and the research assessment exercise. Unfortunately, the article misunderstands our research and claims: "About half (of researchers) said that the RAE was inhibiting interdisciplinary research. But the (group overseeing the project) found that this was not the case."

This does not reflect our conclusions. Our most significant finding is that, as you correctly report, the RAE does not discriminate against interdisciplinary research. Overall, interdisciplinary research received the same ratings as other research in 1996, but there was variation between panels.

Nevertheless, the RAE is widely believed to discriminate against interdisciplinarity. Given the strength of the belief among researchers that panels favour single disciplinary research, it would be bizarre to conclude that the RAE is having no impact on research strategies. Our study provides data that will allow researchers to reassess those strategies. Our recommendations (at www.evaluation. co.uk) are designed to ensure that interdisciplinarity is treated fairly across the entire RAE in 2001 and that researchers can pursue interdisciplinary research in the confidence that it will be fairly assessed.

Andy Boddington

Trudy Coe

Directors Evaluation Associates Ltd Buckingham

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