REF 2020 Outputs and post-1992 Universities: The Death of the Real

  • Martin Myers (Presented paper)

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    Description of Activity

    REF 2020 Outputs and post-1992 Universities: The Death of the Real

    One measurement used in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and its predecessor the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise was outputs, (such as peer-reviewed journal articles), associated with individual academics. Along with other institutional measurements these were used to directly apportion funding for future research. The relationship between individual academics, their outputs and institutional affiliation was effectively an economy in which outputs represented a form of intellectual capital. Like other forms of capital, outputs had a transferrable value for academic authors; one that facilitated career opportunities.

    Since 2014 the capital value of outputs has devalued, for example within institutional led proposals made in the Stern Review (2016) for the 2020 REF. More subtly universities have developed public narratives of successful REF results which devalue individual contributions by claiming the vast majority of their research is ‘world leading’ or of ‘international importance’. This paper argues there has been an observable transition from academic outputs being recognised for their symbolic value and the potency of their intellectual contribution, towards their consumption within ‘economies of signs’ (Baudrillard 1993, 2005). Divested of symbolic value (Bataille, 1988) or an auratic presence (Benjamin, 1999) the output becomes a marginal commodity within university life.
    Period10 Jul 2017
    Event typeConference
    LocationUnited KingdomShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionNational


    • Research Excellence Framework
    • Stern Review
    • Symbolic
    • Real
    • Aura
    • Baudrillard
    • Benjamin