So much, by so many, for so little

January 10, 1997

LEST my concerns about the RAE1996 are discounted (THES, December ) because they come from a disappointed head of a department that many thought worthy of a 5-star rating, I want to place on record that my remarks were made before the results of the exercise were known but that I would stand by them irrespective of its rating. For the record, our rating was 5(A), not the 5-star we had hoped for.

Any assessment whose outcome depended in part on the tactics of those being assessed must be called into question. I was particularly concerned that the message from the HEFCE was supportive of developing future research talent. Assessment panels had a hard job to do - a job not made easier by the HEFCE not requiring submissions reflecting the work of "all" academics from any one institution falling under the ambit of any particular unit of assessment. As Huw Richards noted (THES, December ), panels were asked to take into account the research environment as a whole. Baffling then that a number of panels came up with ratings such as five star (B) (ie 5-15 per cent of presumably research "inactive" staff in a supposedly research excellent environment). Baffling, too, that departments that take seriously their role in developing new research talent themselves should receive lower ratings because they have a "tail" of less accomplished researchers than those that simply buy in established researchers and/or "hide" their research inactive staff. One can only conclude that less is often more in RAE1996.

If this is the message it is likely to lead to more of the tactics to which I referred in the article. Please, however, do not expect Warwick Business School (nor I am sure the University of Warwick as a whole, and others such as Cambridge and the LSE) to play this game. Some of us actually wish to celebrate our role of nurturing new talent. Let us leave the cult of short-termism to politicians and captains of industry.

Robert Galliers Chairman

Warwick Business School University of Warwick

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