Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Watching the Watchers

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Watching the Watchers

Article excerpt

I read with dismay the comments made by the Arts and Humanities Research Council spokesman about my complaints regarding its peer-review standards ("Pianist wants comeback as review hits bum notes", 10 May). He apparently said that its guidelines make it clear that "impact had to be measurable in the sense of being open to evaluation".

Since the beginning of my dispute with the AHRC in October 2011, I have repeatedly told it there is no statement in any of its published documents to the effect that the impact and potential pathways to impact highlighted in a research proposal have to be "measurable" - ie, quantified and assigned a numerical value. Its documents only use the term "demonstrable" in relation to impact.

The effects of a project can be "demonstrated" through non-quantitative means (eg, video documentation, written feedback from the public, etc), which are not - in the academic jargon - ways of "measuring" phenomena. There is nothing in the guidelines indicating that impact should be "decisive, predicted, and quantifiable (measurable)" - the precise words used in the peer-review reports for my proposal. …

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