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The role of academic journal publications in the UK Research Assessment Exercise

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This article explores the evolution of the role of academic journal articles submitted to the UK's Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). By reviewing their role, it is possible to see how the changes from quantitative to qualitative assessment (and the resulting problems surrounding the definition of 'quality' journals) has impacted both on the journals selected by academics for publishing their research and the assessment of them. Although only one part of RAE submissions, the listing of published research outputs provides the primary evidence for research quality to most RAE panels, and is a significant driver of the final grade awarded, and thus the funding received by submitting institutions. The RAE, being a peer-reviewed assessment exercise, mirrors in some ways the peer-review process immured within scholarly publication. The developing role of journal publications as a vehicle for academic research output is examined via the chronology of the RAE, before assessing the current situation in which published journal output formed almost 70% of all output assessed by RAE panels in the latest exercise. The impact of this increased importance of academic journals in the assessment process is considered not only for academics but also for the wider community, i.e. publishers and libraries.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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  • Editor in Chief: Pippa Smart
    North American Editor: Judy Luther

    Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.

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    Learned Publishing will be moving to Wiley-Blackwell as of January 1, 2016. Please contact the publisher at for information on how to continue access to this title.
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