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Lessons from the history and philosophy of science for research assessment systems

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The thesis of this paper is that material from the history and philosophy of science is highly relevant to the question of the efficacy of research assessment systems such as the RAE or REF . Systems of this kind are based on peer review or metrics. However, the study of historical examples such as Frege, Semmelweis, and Copernicus shows that both peer review and metrics have important defects and can lead to the rejection of innovative research. This phenomenon is explained using ideas of Kuhn and Lakatos. The conclusion drawn is that systems such as the RAE or REF are likely to make research output worse rather than better, and an alternative approach to research organization is suggested.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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