The wisdom, or not, of the ages in the REF

March 9, 2017

As one of the authors of the study cited in the article “Old and male REF panels fail to reward innovation, study says” (News, 2 March), I would like to point out that the interviewees took part in the research based on their experience of being part of the research excellence framework, and for many of them, questions of representation on past and future REFs were a key concern.

One aspect that was discussed was age, along with gender, university type, geography and so on. This is not to say that older academics no longer innovate. Instead, the question that interviewees posed was what effect the narrow age range of subpanellists had on the assessment of work submitted to the REF. Some felt that the age range should be broader.

The specific concern raised about fellow subpanellists being “one step removed from the cutting edge of a discipline” was related to senior academics moving into more managerial positions.

Daniel Neyland
Goldsmiths, University of London

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