Sussex reaps REF rewards from Kathleen Stock’s trans research

Analysis suggests philosophy professor’s old department may net as much as £333,000 from the activities that saw her targeted by activists

June 29, 2022
Kathleen Stock
Source: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

The University of Sussex’s philosophy department may have lost the services of Kathleen Stock, but it will still benefit financially from her research to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds, an analysis has suggested.

Before her resignation from Sussex last year after a campaign by students who objected to her gender-critical views, Professor Stock’s writings and advocacy on transgender issues were selected by her department for one of two impact case studies submitted to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

Last week, Research England published Professor Stock’s statement alongside more than 6,000 other case studies submitted to the seven-year national research audit, which it said would provide the potential for “deep dives” into research that generated “outstanding impact” beyond the academy.

With Sussex’s philosophy department judged joint fourth for impact with an overall rating of 75 per cent, one of its impact studies will have been graded 4* (“world-leading”) and one 3* (“internationally excellent”) – with the two outputs accounting for 25 per cent of a unit’s overall score and quality-related (QR) research funding allocation.

In the case study, titled “Stimulating and Shaping UK Political Debate and Judicial Policy Concerning Gender Identity”, Professor Stock’s “research and its often-controversial public engagement” is described as having “created space in public and academic settings for more nuanced, evidence-informed debate” on this issue.

“This has improved the capacity of policymakers to draw informed conclusions responsibly, particularly in relation to issues of single-sex provision, data collection, hate crime, and free speech about sex and gender,” it adds.

If Professor Stock’s case study is Sussex’s 4* impact case study – the other focuses on the use of philosophy in childbirth – it could net her former department almost £48,000 a year in QR funding, or £333,000 over a seven-year period, given the likely value of a top-rated case study, according one expert.

While the final formula to decide how QR funding is awarded has yet to be announced, and the exact QR allocations have not been released either, a 4* case study is likely to be worth about 3 per cent more than in 2014, said research consultant Simon Kerridge, a former research director at the University of Kent.

With fewer cases studies submitted in the 2021 REF than in 2014 (6,718 versus 6,975) and a higher weighting for impact, “each impact case study is worth slightly more” this time around compared with 2014, when an average 4* impact case study was worth £324,000, Mr Kerridge told Times Higher Education, adding that it would be worth “a third of a million pounds, assuming the same period to the next assessment”. A 3* impact case study will likely net an institution about £11,000 a year, or £77,000 over the next seven-year framework.

Those figures are likely to highlight new rules introduced after the 2015 Stern review that allowed universities to benefit from QR research funding for academics who had quit, been sacked, retired or even died.

One soon-to-be retiree whose impact case study will continue to enrich her old employer is the classicist Dame Mary Beard, whose books, journalism and TV presenting work are described in detail in a submission by the University of Cambridge.

One impact case study that few could argue with is the University of Oxford’s write-up of its work on a Covid vaccine, which coolly notes that the jab has been received by 2 billion people following its rapid development during the pandemic.

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Reader's comments (2)

The article heading is misleading. Stock did not do trans research. The methodology in her anti-trans publications was never available to be scrutinized, was not peer reviewed. Cambridge Scholars Publishing (which has nothing to do with Cambridge University) does not send it out edited collections or indeed monographs out for peer review. While the impact study may have shown impact (I would suggest that the debate that we have seen about trans rights and single sex places was nothing to do with her 'research' and was possible because of her and her anti-trans colleagues able to befriend some people in relatively powerful policy development positions and of course in the media.
While I know the hatred of Professor Stock is a product of the pro trans network (resourced by, amongst others, Stonewall in the UK + the pharmacological industry globally), when it comes down to the individual it’s usually little more than petty jealousy and misogyny, as Zowie’s comment illustrates.


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