Jan 082009

December 18 was the the day (or rather the night, as results were communicated at midnight) for UK academics: after years of preparation and second-guessing and months of waiting, the results of the 6th Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) were published. Every five years or so, the UK higher education funding councils examine the research output of the various “units of assessment” (i.e. departments) and publish a league table that is crucial for the allocation of “quality weighted research funding” (i.e. money) as well as for the reputation of a place. At the moment, the system is chiefly based on an evaluation of up to four publications per active researcher, which has lead to the creation of transfer market for scientists that ressembles professional football.

In every RAE since 1986, my institution has earned top grades. This time around, the marks are a bit more disaggregated, i.e. a percentage of 4*, 3* etc. work was published. But no matter which way you count and weight the results, we end up in the first place (tied with Sheffield but clearly ahead of Oxford and the LSE). Obviously, we are freaking happy.

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