Research Assessment Exercise is an exercise that is carried out at an interval of about five years aimed at evaluating the quality of research that is undertaken by British higher education institutions. The exercise is undertaken basically on behalf of the four United Kingdom funding councils of the higher education. The research Excellence Framework came as a successor to the Research Assessment Exercise as a method of assessing the research of British higher education institutions.
As a mew framework it is expected to produce a robust indication of research excellence for all disciplines following the failures of its predecessor. Both have faced much criticism from scholars who feel that the mode of operation of these assessment exercises is not standard and is marred with misleading information that has grave consequences to the value of higher education n the country. How they operate Research Assessment Exercise uses specialists in the particular fields of research to make submissions to the councils that are ranked by the review panel.
The assessment process places much emphasis on the quality of research outputs which includes the papers published in academic journals as well as conference proceedings. The process of assessment also takes into consideration the environment on which the research was carried out as well as indicators of esteem. Each discipline of study that the research is based on has a panel that is well vast with that discipline that determines the rules that will be used as the general guidelines of the assessment exercise.
The institutions are also invited to submit their research outputs that are published over a given period. The Research Assessment Exercise takes into consideration the research outputs made by full time members of staff in the research that have been selected for the inclusion. The Research Excellence Framework came as a successor to the Research Assessment Exercise that had highly been criticized by academics in the United Kingdom. It substituted Research Assessment Exercise as a method of assessing the research carried out by British higher education institutions.
As a new assessment strategy it is aimed at producing an indication of research excellence in higher education institutions that is robust and can be used as a benchmark quality adjacent to international standards. It also aims to provide a basis that can be used in the distribution of funds to research institutions reducing the administrative burden on institutions. It aims to avoid creating an undesirable behavioral incentive and promote equality and diversity by providing a stable framework on which there will be continued support of a world-leading research foundation within higher education institutions.
Both are considered important based on their operations in the society. This is based on the fact that they give insight to the funding councils on the way that they will fund the higher education institution based on the credibility of the research of each institution. They as well show the excellence of the different higher education institutions which helps the public in monitoring the progress of the education institutions in the country (Business Video News, 2010). Criticism
The Research Assessment Exercise has highly been criticized on the basis of the fact that happens to ignore the publications made by many full time researchers in the United Kingdom. This has been attributed to the fact that most of these researchers whose publications are ignored are employed on basis of contracts that have a fixed term. The guidelines made by Research Assessment Exercise of the year 2008 attribute that most research assistants are not eligible to be attributed as research active staff (Andrew, 2008).
It also excludes the publications made by researchers on fixed term contracts from the assessment exercise unless they can be credited to a staff member who is eligible for the assessment exercise. Criticism has also been raised on the expertise of the panel to evaluate the quality of the research outputs. This is on the basis of the fact that the performance of experts happens to be less when they work in fields that are outside their specific areas of specialization. The Research Assessment Exercise has also been criticized on the basis of the impact that it has on the institution of higher education.
This is based on the outcomes of the assessment exercise that have led to the closure of departments that have strong research profiles as well as adequate student recruitment. This has led to massive loss of jobs, demoralization of staff as well as narrowing of the opportunities of research over concentrating funds leading to the undermining of the relationship between teaching and research. The assessment exercise has been criticized as an exercise that has the impact of destruction of the higher education system in the United Kingdom raising its opposition by academics.
The criticism to both Research Assessment Exercise and Research Excellence Framework has highly been centered on the fact that the research that is made by the higher education institutions is usually rewarded on the basis of the economic impact that it has. This has been based on the idea that these research assessment exercises assess the research made by the institutions and rank them on the basis of the economic impacts that their research outcomes have on the economy of the country (Chanson, 2007).
Based on the economic impact of their research, the institutions are then funded by the funding councils and this has raised much of the criticism. The basis of many academics opposing these assessment structures is the thought of the economic emphasis that is placed on their researches (Felipe, 2009). This has raised the high opposition of both assessment exercises by the academics on the basis that the exercises require them to place much emphasis on research that have an economic benefit.
The argument of the academics is the fact the research assessment exercises focus their attention on one aspect of their research that is economic. The feel of the academics is that the assessment exercises are discriminatory on the basis that their attention is on the economic impact that the research has on the society rather than the significance of the research itself. This makes the academics have the idea that their field of research is compromised in the sense that they have to make research findings that have an economic benefit on the society.
The indication that research proposals should indicate the economic impacts that the research has on the society has been viewed as a move that limits their scholarly freedom. This is on account of the fact that the indication of the economic impact of the research limits the field of the research. This is on account of the fact that it creates a bias situation in which the researchers are bound to give improper reports on their research. This is in regard to Research Excellence Framework which has it that it will allocate a quarter of United Kingdoms university research funding on the basis of the impact of the research (Andrew, 2009).
This is viewed as to create a loophole in which higher education institution may carry out research with the aim of meeting the impact rather than the educational goal of the research. It is also viewed as a factor that has the potential of leading to mislead research reports that are geared at creating the economic impact targeted by the assessment exercises in order to get the funding. It is seen as a move that limits the freedom of education on the grounds that it seeks to appreciate education on the basis of its economic impact in the society (An open letter to Research Councils UK, 2009).
This is on the basis that academic researchers are responsible for the impartial pursuit of knowledge a factor that is undermined by the recommendations made by Research Excellence Framework. This is seen as a limitation in the field of education on the grounds that it interferes with the policy making in the scientific field. This is viewed to have the impact of limiting success in the scientific field on the basis that the freedom of research has been tampered with.
This has led to academics opposing the assessment exercises feeling that they limit their freedom of pursuit of knowledge. This is on the grounds that it limits their field of research on the basis that they have to direct their research in a way that they have an economic benefit in the society. The limit is on the basis of the fact that science is a global discipline that has held non-interference policies that have led to the discovery of many important aspects in the field that have had much significance in the human life.
The recommendation by the assessment exercises are viewed as a devastating move in the sense that some of the research made must not have an economic benefit in the society but may have massive impact in the society. This creates a situation in which the researchers cannot make some of their research reports owing to the fact that they do not have an economic benefit in the society. The scientific research has also been known to make findings that are hard to predict on the basis that their impact depend on certain factors that may change over time.
This creates an uphill task for the researches on the account that they have to calculate the economic impact of their research that is at times dependant of the way that the research is applied in the society. The economic impact that is taken into consideration is also hard to determine as well as measure. This is based on the fact that there has not yet been an invention made that can be used in the determination as well as measurement of the economic impact that something has in the society (Jessica, 2009).
This creates a situation in which what is considered as the economic impact is an assumption that is bound to change depending on factors that surround the operation of the research. The measurement of the economic impact that the findings have in the society is the main point of argument based on the fact that it is hard for this impact to be accurately measured. This raises a question of the criteria in which the assessment exercises use in the calculation of the economic impact that the reports from the research have in the society.
The basis of argument is the fact that a clear calculation cannot be easily made raising concerns over the criteria that is used by the panel in the determination of this. This creates a situation in which the assessment panel is viewed as biased on account of the fact the economic impacts made are assumption thus the firm seen as to favor the research of the academics that they have interest in. The fact that academics are opposed to the assessment exercises does not necessarily mean that they are no longer to be managed.
This is due to the fact that lack of their management can lead to the misuse of the funds allocated to them as well as carrying out of unwanted research that has less significance. This calls for the need of their management as a move that is aimed at their regulation as well as monitoring their activities. However, the management ought to be in a systematic way that does not limit their freedom of pursuit of knowledge. This is based on the fact that poor management strategies can be applied leading to the destruction of the learning process that is accompanied with the academics.
The management ought to be directed on the distribution of the funds as well as monitoring the usage of the funds. This is aimed at avoiding embezzlement of the funds as well as the use of the funds in projects that are of less significance to the goal of academics. The management ought to give freedom for research based on the fact that academics are aimed at acquiring knowledge and this can only be achieved with the freedom to carry out research on any field. This is despite the impact that their findings have in the society and this should not be used as the basis of their funding.
Some of the research is significant to the life of human beings but may not have economic significance which can not be used as the basis of funding academic research. Academic research is really a matter of serendipity on the basis that serendipitous discoveries play a significant role in the advancement of science. This is based in the fact that they offer a foundation on which important intellectual leaps of understanding are made. This is based on the fact that accidental discoveries reveal information that when contemplated can be developed into an important scientific discovery (Science Daily, 2009).
Conclusion The assessment plan is an important idea that helps the public in the monitoring of the way the higher education institutions utilize the funds allocated to them by the funding councils. It also plays an important role in helping the public monitor the activities of the higher education institution so as to tell their progress in the pursuit of knowledge. However the criterion that has been used by the assessment exercises RAE and REF have been discriminatory and not beneficial to the academics leading to the destruction of the research activities of these higher education institutions.
This is based on the fact that they lay much emphasis on certain aspects of the research such as their economic impacts which offers misleading information to the funding councils. This has raised the criticism that the exercises have faced from the academics. The measurement of the economic impacts of the research has also raised concern questioning the criteria used by the panel to determine the economic impact. This is based on the fact that there is no known criterion that can be used in the determination of this aspect of research findings that is used in the assessment exercise.
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