Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Men against Boys

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Men against Boys

Article excerpt

Sociologist Robert K. Merton's "Matthew effect" (ie, "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer") leads us to expect top academics to set up a system of evaluation that cements their position. So perhaps it is surprising that the research excellence framework has virtually no concept of academic leadership ... or is it?

Early-career researchers are allowed a discount in terms of the number of outputs that are submitted to the REF on their behalf. But other than this, researchers with, say, five years of experience are put on an equal footing with 35-year veterans: both must submit four outputs that will be rated out of four using the same measures. So researchers who would never be given million-pound grants due to their inexperience handling large projects are compared with those who possess that experience. Researchers only just building up networks are compared with those who know all the editors and have many favours to call in. Researchers on the middle of the pay scale are compared with those at the top. In other words, it is assumed that after five years of being a full-time researcher you have learned everything you need to learn and should be world class - if not, you are failing. …

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