Re: Future UK RAEs to be Metrics-Based

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2006 00:00:18 +0100

All the exchanges in this thread over the last day or so seem to be assuming
that the 'metrics' to be used in future RAEs in the UK will measure
citations or some other similar measure of use of published papers. If
that were so, I would not be too unhappy - Charles Oppenheim's earlier
research has shown that such measures correlate quite well with past RAE
results achieved by much more labour-intnsive and expensive methods.

But if we look at the actual proposals from the funding councils that are
currently out for consultation, we find that their idea of 'metrics' is
something quite different. Essentially their proposals give primacy to a
measure of money earned from outside research grants. This is bad in two
important ways. First, it measures resaerch inputs not outputs, and
potentially rewards inefficiency - surely those who achieve good research
results on a shoestring should be admired, not penalised? Second, it
removes diversity of research funding - essentially, the only way to build
a research-active departmenbt is to get money from research councils, etc.
The HEFCE money would simply apply a multiplier to that from research
funders. The current RAE system, or a hypothetical one based on citation,
offers an alternative route ro research success for those who do good work
without outside funding; if their outputs (published papers and books) are
adjudged good and influential, they receive QR funding independently of any
outside research grants they may have. The proposed money-based metrics
offer no alternative means of support, but simply apply 'to him that hath,
it shall be given'.

So, for me, metrics in principle are not necessarily bad but the actual
metrics being proposed are very bad indeed.

Fytton Rowland, Department of Information Science, Loughborough University,
Received on Tue Sep 19 2006 - 01:01:56 BST

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