Ineffective Assessment Of Funds For Research Must Change

April 03, 1998

(Misleading, unscientific and unjust: the United Kingdom's research assessment exercise)

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In an Education and Debate paper in this week's BMJ, Williams launches a scathing attack on the research assessment exercise (RAE) conducted by the Higher Education Funding Councils (the aim of this exercise is to measure research activity in British academic institutions and determine how the councils' research budget should be distributed among the universities in the UK.

The author says that the exercise "gathers misleading data, which it assesses unscientifically and unaccountably, using an inefficient procedure that is expensive and extremely wasteful of scientists' time". Williams highlights what he perceives as, the inadequacies of the exercise and concludes by saying that it is " a dysfunctional juggernaut, lumbering on under its own momentum .....threatening to crush research creativity, careers and scientific integrity". The author concludes that the current system must be replaced with a structure that is "scientifically and morally beyond reproach".


Gareth Williams, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Liverpool, Duncan Building, Liverpool

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