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The nature of publishing and assessment in Geography and Environmental Studies: evidence from the Research Assessment Exercise 2008

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We present a summary of the kinds of outputs submitted to the Geography and Environmental Studies sub-panel (H-32) for the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and examine the relationships between the peer assessment of research quality that the RAE process has typified, and alternative modes of assessment based on bibliometrics. This comparison is effected using (in aggregate form) some of the results from the RAE, together with citation data gathered after completion of the RAE assessment, specifically for the purpose of this paper. We conclude that, if it continues to be necessary and desirable to assess, in some measure and however imprecisely, research quality, then peer assessment cannot be replaced by bibliometrics. Bibliometrics permit measurement of something that may be linked to quality but is essentially a different phenomenon – a measure of ‘impact’, for example.
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Keywords: RAE; bibliometrics; output types; peer review

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EN, Email: [email protected] 2: CASA, University College London, London WC1E 7HB 3: Geography and Environment, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UF 4: School of Social & Environmental Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN 5: School of Geography, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD 6: Department of Geography, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX 7: School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1SS 8: Department of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London, London E1 4NS 9: School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University, Belfast BT7 1NN 10: School of City & Regional Planning, University of Cardiff, Cardiff CF10 3WA 11: School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT 12: Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ 13: Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX 14: Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE 15: School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY

Publication date: 01 September 2009

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