Union 'incensed' by staff research profiles

January 7, 2010

The University of Manchester is drawing up staff "research profiles", under which academics are given a score of between one and four for their research performance.

The rating will be decided by faculty assessment panels on the basis of an individual's external research grant income, publications, PhD student supervision and other data.

A university spokesman said the exercise "aims to create an accurate, up-to-date set of research profiles that will be of great value when it comes to developing future research priorities, informing funding decisions and preparing the university for the forthcoming research excellence framework".

He said staff could "check and correct the data, make comments about additional factors or extenuating circumstances and make a statement on impact".

In June, Times Higher Education reported that the University of Leeds was compiling "activity profiles" of all its academics in order to benchmark their research and teaching.

Members of the University and College Union at Manchester are following their colleagues at Leeds in opposing the latest plans.

The union is arguing that matters involving individual research - such as improved strategies for publication and grant applications - should be discussed through existing appraisal processes.

"Our members are incensed by this issue - both those who are the main targets of the research profiling exercise and those senior staff who sit on the assessment panels," a union spokesman said.

"It's fundamentally flawed in terms of accuracy and of the university's ability to maintain confidentiality."

Concerns have also been raised about the expertise of staff making the judgments.

A UCU briefing says: "The assessment will be done by a faculty panel with only one representative from each school, who will thus have little or no expertise in the subject area in most cases. No account will be taken of the variations in publication volume, citation rates etc across sub-disciplines."

The Manchester spokesman insisted that assessment would be conducted by large panels with cross-faculty representation, an external member with experience in assessment of research, and senior academic and administrative staff.

melanie.newman@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Artist Frank Boelter sitting in life-size paper boat

Creator of crowdfunding teaching tool says entrepreneurship courses should drop the traditional business plan as a method of assessment

Man photocopying a book

Students think it ‘unfair’ to be punished for unintentional plagiarism

Child drives miniature car into people

Smaller, newer alternative providers are less likely to pass higher education review, analysis says

Superhero costumes hanging on a washing line

Senior management do not recognise support staff’s pivotal role in achieving positive student outcomes, administrators say

to write students’ assessed essays in return for cash

Vic Boyd was on the lookout for academic writing opportunities. What she found was somewhat less appetising...