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Research assessment: Mapping the differences

What effect do contrasting systems for assessing research have on excellence and academic mobility? Such exercises should not be allowed to limit world-leading research, suggests UK historian Ray Laurence of Macquarie University in Australia.

Research in the UK and Australia is assessed nationally using systems with similar but different criteria. In both countries, universities seek to gain the best result in these assessments through the management of their staff and a whole ecosystem of support led by professional services, with blogs, conferences, and survival guides.

I am complicit in all this, having been a director of research in a humanities faculty overseeing eight submissions for REF 2014. What is perhaps lost in this process is how the management of researchers to fulfil nationally devised assessment criteria distorts not just research, but may also hinder researcher mobility internationally.

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