Monday, October 19, 2009

Research Excellence Framework (part 2)

Continuing from my previous post; once again, foreigners who are not into schadenfreude should again read no further. Some new web links follow. First a couple of petitions:
A new collection of web pages highlighting this topic: The Danger of Assessing Research By Economic Impact

The topic has led to a flurry of emails on the CPHC mailing list; opinions there are divided, there are some who don't mind the proposal, some who are defeatist and some who also object to it. Some discussion has addressed whether one should push for a broader definition of "impact" beyond economic impact, and also the general burden of assessment -- it is costly to have to stop what you're doing every 5 years and enter into an episode of acute navel-gazing, and the present Government does not propose to compensate us for that! Outside of CS, there is a stronger consensus against the proposed definition of "impact". Do not be defeatist - the REF is a version of (and probably largely plagiarized from) Australia's Research Quality Framework (RQF), a similar Gradgrind-like model which was cancelled in December 2007 due to a change in government. Notice that in the UK, prospects for a change in government are very strong -- let's see if history repeats itself!

And finally, let me quote from an article in the Guardian yesterday by Madeleine Bunting addresses the point that Market theory closed down public discourse about injustice. But we urgently need to describe what we should value. From the article:
But don't look to economists to get us out of this hollow mould of neoliberal economics and its bastard child, managerialism – the cost-benefit analysis and value-added gibberish that has made most people's working lives a mockery of everything they know to value.

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