There is improvement across the board - but also some disturbing findings

January 8, 2009

- While scholarship in law is "in a healthy state", the RAE panel responsible for law warns that "the outputs we assessed as below the standard of nationally recognised quality" are "more than we anticipated". The panel is "disappointed at the extent of overlap between outputs, which in a few cases amounted in some submissions to virtually the same work (by the same person) published in different outlets."

- While sociology is "very healthy", the panel complains that some submissions include "dictionary entries, encyclopaedia articles and similar short works that had only slight research content". This is "inappropriate ... especially (for) those at senior levels."

- Research in physics, chemistry and earth sciences has improved, but the panel overseeing these fields warns that their importance as core disciplines underpinning the wider sciences is not always recognised through current funding mechanisms. The panel commends the success of small departments but warns that "some of these are highly dependent on the retention of a few key individuals."

- In psychology, the panel lauds strengths but warns that in some areas "the high level of recruitment of staff from other countries is partly a result of insufficient numbers of appropriately skilled UK research students."

- In education, the panel notes a general rise in quality and a growth in research into higher education, but warns of a "contrast between the innovative and the pedestrian". It highlights "the relatively high proportion in education departments of staff without doctorates."

- In sports-related studies, the panel laments a general dearth of funding and "missed opportunities" for Olympics-related research.

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