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



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.