Making sense of research quality assessment
Lansley, P. (2007) Making sense of research quality assessment. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 14 (1). pp. 7-25. ISSN 0969-9988
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1108/09699980710716954
Purpose – For many academics in UK universities the nature and orientation of their research is overwhelmingly determined by considerations of how that work will be graded in research assessment exercises (RAEs). The grades awarded to work in a particular subject area can have a considerable impact on the individual and their university. There is a need to better understand those factors which may influence these grades. The paper seeks to address this issue. Design/methodology/approach – The paper considers relationships between the grades awarded and the quantitative information provided to the assessment panels for the 1996 and 2001 RAEs for two subject areas, built environment and town and country planning, and for three other subject areas, civil engineering, geography and archaeology, in the 2001 RAE. Findings – A simple model demonstrating strong and consistent relationships is established. RAE performance relates to numbers of research active staff, the production of books and journal papers, numbers of research studentships and graduations, and research income. Important differences between subject areas are identified. Research limitations/implications – Important issues are raised about the extent to which the new assessment methodology to be adopted for the 2008 RAE will capture the essence of good quality research in architecture and built environment. Originality/value – The findings provide a developmental perspective of RAEs and show how, despite a changed methodology, various research activities might be valued in the 2008 RAE. The basis for a methodology for reviewing the credibility of the judgements of panels is proposed.