The Times Higher Education Supplement has the news that the UK Research Exercise Framework (the Research Assessment Exercise replacement) will be delayed for a year. This means publications between 2008 and 2013 will now ‘count’.
This has some strange distorting effects in terms of academic publishing, which I experienced not just in terms of my own work or that of colleagues, but also as a journal editor. In the last RAE a paper that appeared with a 2007 date could be included, but not a 2008 one. We got round this for some authors by putting the papers online as ‘forthcoming’ even though they had not yet appeared in a print issue. Society and Space now has a much shorter queue than when I took over as editor, but I was already anticipating the way a 2012 cut-off date would change submission patterns and author’s worries about review times and the queue. This is now deferred for a year, and it’s a good thing that ‘impact’ is being looked at again, but the artificiality of the exercise obviously continues.