Saturday, 7 November 2009

Research Excellence Framework and Impact (III)

The latest issue of Times Higher Education features an article indicating that managers and academics are at logger-heads over the notion of impact assessment with managers being apparently sold on the idea. However, no manager is willing to be quoted on the topic. See the article in question here. Meanwhile, the same issue of the newspaper in question includes two letters attacking the general way in which impact assessment is being used as a measure of research quality, letters mentioned in this article. The first is signed by 48 people, including 10 Nobel Laureates and 26 members of the Royal Society. The second, more pertinently for the readers of this blog, is signed by all except one of the members of the last RAE philosophy panel, including my colleague, Professor Joanna Hodge.

However, given the insight into the general opinion the government has into evidence-based research, as demonstrated in its handling of the recent case of Professor Nutt, it is fairly evident that none of this will matter. They'll simply proceed in any case since none of the above have any right to be taken at all seriously. All of which demonstrates well what kind of political calculations really underlie the support the government is offering to "scientific" education. This is clearly something that really means: listen to managers, ones, that is, we have ensured will dance to our tune by means of financial incentives and ignore anything said by anyone who might have some means of being able to make evidence-based claims on the area.

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