Category: REF 2014

Evaluating research assessment: Metrics-based analysis exposes implicit bias in REF2014 results.

The recent UK research assessment exercise, REF2014, attempted to be as fair and transparent as possible. However, Alan Dix, a member of the computing sub-panel, reports how a post-hoc analysis of public domain REF data reveals substantial implicit and emergent bias in terms of discipline sub-areas (theoretical vs applied), institutions (Russel Group vs post-1992), and gender. While metrics are generally […]

The impact of UK academia on Parliament is cross-disciplinary but the ways researchers engage are narrow.

How does academic research feed into the parliamentary process? Analysing the impact case studies of the 2014 REF, Caroline Kenny draws out potential lessons on how Parliament is currently engaging with academics, and how it might in the future. Impact case studies referring to Parliament were found in all four of the main subject panels, but 45 per cent of […]

Five reasons the Teaching Excellence Framework is bad news for higher education

Jessica Patterson argues the announcement of proposals for a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is bad news indeed for those concerned about a more rapid pace to the marketisation of higher education. Here she outlines five key concerns against a teaching assessment framework given the wider context of greater casualisation and stratification in the workforce and a ‘value for money’ approach to […]

Women’s working lives in the managerial university and the pernicious effects of the ‘normal’ academic career.

University faculties need to be able to demonstrate to young people, male and female, that women can be just as inspiring teachers and researchers, and be able to live as enjoyable a domestic life as their male counterparts. Angela McRobbie reflects on how the ideal career track in the academy, suffused with constant benchmarking around ‘excellence’ and the REF’s logic of […]

Book Review: Sexuality: A Psychosocial Manifesto

Author Katherine Johnson argues for a psychosocial approach that rethinks the relationship between psychic and social realms in the field of sexuality, without reducing it to either. Weaving through an expanse of theoretical and empirical examples drawn from sociology, psychology, queer and cultural studies, she produces an innovative, transdisciplinary perspective on sexual identities, subjectivities and politics. Alexander Blanchard argues that any […]

Influential, international and interdisciplinary: The impact of the UK’s research.

The Policy Institute at King’s College London, along with colleagues in the digital humanities department, teamed up with technology company Digital Science to build a searchable database and produce a rich analysis of the impact case studies for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Saba Hinrichs and Jonathan Grant introduce the key findings of the analysis and explain how the resource provides […]

Book Review: Rank Hypocrisies: the Insult of the REF by Derek Sayer.

Publication of the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework evaluation of the quality of work undertaken in all UK universities last December attracted much attention, as league tables of university and department standings were constructed and estimates of the financial consequences of the achieved grades were assessed. Soon after that, a book was published savagely criticising the peer reviews […]

Impact doesn’t have to be a dirty word – staying positive about the promotion of scientific excellence.

The research funding landscape looks bleak in many areas at present, but that’s all the more reason to focus on success stories, argues Ben McCluskey. Universities are doing great work to bring jobs and money into the regions they serve, but they should be supported by a framework based on national cooperation, not competition. In light of the incredible research […]

Governing through unhappiness: Audit culture and the lasting effects of the REF.

After the REF dust settled on 2014, what will come next for the higher education sector? Will Davies breaks down audit culture and describes neoliberalism as the ‘disenchantment of politics by economics’ where processes traditionally left in the realm of politics must now be reconfigured in calculative, economically rational terms. When audit becomes married to rapidly shrinking budgets, and the […]