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Our research ranking was misleadingly low in league tables

I write following the news item headed "Capital institutes top research league table" (TES, December 20).

The interpretation of the latest research assessment exercise outcome with regard to the quality of research in education at the Roehampton Institute London needs qualification.

The research ranking appears to be closely related to the actual number of staff entered. We chose to celebrate the very wide range of research activity that is undertaken here by putting forward more than 90 per cent of the staff as active researchers.

As well as distinguished international scholars, we included recent appointments from the school sector who have just begun their careers as active researchers. The RAE outcome is official recognition that we have indeed been able to double the number of active researchers since the last exercise in 1992.

We are not doing less research than previously, nor is our research of a lower quality. Unfortunately, the RAE does not differentiate sufficiently between the output of established and new researchers. Nevertheless, any disappointment we might feel at the apparent lowering of our research ranking is modified by the national recognition we received (in the same week) of the high quality of our teaching from the Teacher Training Agency (drawing on available Office for Standards in Education evidence).

We suggest that the combination of research and teaching rankings is probably a better overall indicator of the actual quality of research and scholarly activity at Roehampton.

PROFESSOR GRAHAM F WELCH

Dean Faculty of Education Roehampton Institute London

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