Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

REF Brings Anxiety to Those on 'Bottom Rung'

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

REF Brings Anxiety to Those on 'Bottom Rung'

Article excerpt

Early career researchers overwhelmingly feel that the research excellence framework has created "a huge amount of pressure and anxiety, which impacts particularly on those at the bottom rung of the career ladder".

This is one of the findings of a survey of nearly 200 early career researchers from across the UK conducted earlier this year by Charlotte Mathieson, a research fellow at the University of Warwick's Institute of Advanced Study.

Presenting her results at Westminster Higher Education Forum's "Next Steps for the REF" conference on 23 April, Dr Mathieson said that many of the respondents blamed the REF for creating a "culture of aggression and bullying" and a "two-tier hierarchy between teaching and research which is used to inhibit career mobility of those stuck in teaching positions".

Many respondents (19 per cent of whom were current PhD students, and 42 per cent of whom were submitted to the REF) also bemoaned the creation of an increasingly competitive job market "focused solely on 'REFable' publications".

Generating those publications was made more difficult by the rise in "precarious, short-term and typically teaching-heavy workloads", which respondents also blamed on the REF. …

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