'We're supposed to have an agreement. I give you an office, a lecture slot, and an admittedly modest salary. In return, you teach what you like with no questions asked, and give me four REF-able articles. Four 4* REF-able outputs that I can actually submit, unlike the ones you emailed me last week.'
'What's wrong with them?'
'They're on medieval Armenian poetry and we're the philosophy department.'
'Where's your imagination? I'm sure you can find a use for them. They're very good articles.'
'I know , I had them read by someone who can actually read Armenian. She said that they were the best work she'd seen in her career, and incidentally wherever did you find that new manuscript?
'I know that you don't like the REF, Doctor. Most of your colleagues don't like it either. As the person who has to deal with everybody else not liking it, I inevitably hate it. But until you give me four articles in a subject relevant to an existing University department or, if you prefer, invent time travel and stop it happening in the first place, I shall continue to nag you to ensure that you adhere to the terms of our agreement. Here's a list of departments. Four outputs, or time travel, Doctor, it's up to you.'
'Of course we can add medieval Armenian poetry to the lecture list next year. Now if you could just remember that I will need your entry for the Great University Bake-Off Biscuit Challenge by Friday that would be great.'
Meanwhile in the real-life department of Be Careful What You Wish For Studies, this gem from the Wikipedia article on the RAE:
The committee received submissions of research statements from 37 subject areas ("cost centres") within Universities, along with five selected research outputs.
A subsequent research assessment was conducted in 1989 under the name "research selectivity exercise" by the Universities Funding Council. Responding to the complaint of the Universities that they weren't allowed submit their "full strength," Swinnerton-Dyer allowed the submission of two research outputs per every member of staff.
And so the madness began.
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