Memorandum submitted by the Chemical Industries
Our response is based on the work of the Chemistry
Have any of their staff been reluctant, or refused,
No, not as far as the CIA is aware. All the
members regarded it as both a privilege and a huge responsibility.
It was hard work, but no-one resented doing it.
Did they feel that sufficient weight was given
to their views?
The views of all panel members were fully respected.
For the most part, there were few areas/researchers, over which
a general consensus was not quite quickly reached [ie, is this
academic of national or international standard?], but where there
were opposing views [as is inevitable] the discussion was held
in the most constructive manner, and in all cases a final verdict
was reached and agreed upon without any acrimony. This was true
also for the more ethereal aspects of the assessment, such as
the department's strategy / focus / future plans / management
In more general terms, do they feel that industrial
collaboration was given the recognition it deserved?
Overall, the Panel work was very hard and time-consuming,
but conducted throughout in the most genial and respectful manner.
The Panel was very effectively chaired by Jim Feast. The protocols
[eg rules of assessment, exclusion from discussion of those with
conflicting interests] were very strictly applied, and the support
we received from the RAE team [from John Rogers, manager of the
RAE, to Lisa Brooks, the Panel Secretary] was excellent.
A couple of issues that are also worth mentioning
are given below:
The research outputs [research papers
to be assessed] were not easily accessible for Panel members without
a university library, and the system put in place to allow access
over the web was slow and cumbersome.
The discussions held over the assessment
period, and the detailed notes the Panel made during the process,
contained a great deal of valuable information and analysis which,
if properly disseminated, would be a great help to each department,
to understand why it did well or badly, and how to build on things
for the future.
The CIA believe it is a shame that, because
of legal issues which we fully understand, none of this information
will get to the people it should. The Chemistry Panel were constrained
to give a very brief outline of what was agreed at the meetings,
in a rather standard and amortised form. All detailed notes were
destroyed, primarily to prevent the Panel and its members from
possible litigation if someone objected about a comment/assessment.
Overall, the RAE experience was very positive.
However, the CIA believes that it is too retrospective. We believe
that HEFCE should be encouraging departments to bid for funds
based on a rigorous five-year "business" plan. The backward-looking
nature of the RAE is silly, and the "transfer market"
in top academics it promotes is equally inane.
Dr Amit Khandelwal
Head of Research and Innovation