Friday, January 30, 2009

PhilPapers

I am delighted to announce the launch of a new philosophical resource called PhilPapers. I had the great joy of using it during its development phase and I have been greatly impressed by the range of resources it puts at your fingertips (including the latest from the JMP, of course).

I could not recommend this resource more highly to anyone with an interest in the subject. Congrats to Dave Chalmers and team!

UPDATE: RAE 2008 Results in Philosophy

Previously, I wrote on the RAE 2008 results in Philosophy here. I first noted that:

"Readers will know that the UK has administered a "Research Assessment Exercise" (RAE) every few years. The RAE is an examination of the research quality of all departments across all subjects. The results will be published in full tomorrow, but some results have landed on my desk now.

Departments are ranked in the following way. Each department receives a share of 4*, 3*, 2*, 1* and 'unclassified'. A department where everyone is internationally excellent at the highest level would be 100% 4* 0% 3* and so on."

I then proceeded to provide several rankings: (a) departments scoring best on 4*, (b) a weighted average where 4*=4 points, 3*=3 points, 2*=2 points, and 1*=1 point, and (c) I then provided the Brooks ranking whereby 4*=10 points, 3*=5 points, 2*=2 points, and 1*=1 point. On my model, a 4* was twice as valuable than 3* and five times more than 2*.

It turns out that my Brooks ranking is almost identical with HEFCE's proposed weighting. Today, the Times Higher Education reports here that a 4* will count seven times more than 2* and 3* research will be funded three times that of 2*. Research at 1* and unranked will receive no funding at all. We can then use this ranking to come up with the following scale:

4* = 7 points
3* = 3 points
2* = 1 point
1* = 0 points
N/r = 0 points

The more points held by a department, the more that it will earn from the RAE exercise (multiplied by the numbers of staff submitted).

This then yields a new table based upon expected HEFCE funding of the RAE 2008 results in Philosophy:

1. UCL - 425
2. St Andrews - 410
3. KCL - 385
4. Sheffield - 380
5. Reading - 370
6. Cambridge HPS - 365
6. LSE - 365
6. Oxford - 365
9. Bristol - 345
10. Stirling - 340
11. Cambridge - 325
11. Essex - 325
13. Birkbeck - 320
14. Nottingham - 315
15. Edinburgh - 305
15. Leeds - 305
15. Middlesex - 305
18. Warwick - 265
18. York - 265
20. Durham - 260
20. Sussex - 260

I am pleased to say that my initial hunch was correct: this ranking is virtually identical to the Brooks weighted ranking. The only difference is that Cambridge moves from just behind Essex to tied with Essex. In terms of per staff submitted, the above ranking is how each Philosophy department stands.

UPDATE: RAE 2008 Results in Politics

Previously, I wrote on the RAE 2008 results in Politics here. I first noted that:

"Readers will know that the UK has administered a "Research Assessment Exercise" (RAE) every few years. The RAE is an examination of the research quality of all departments across all subjects. The results will be published in full tomorrow, but some results have landed on my desk now.

Departments are ranked in the following way. Each department receives a share of 4*, 3*, 2*, 1* and 'unclassified'. A department where everyone is internationally excellent at the highest level would be 100% 4* 0% 3* and so on."

I then proceeded to provide several rankings: (a) departments scoring best on 4*, (b) a weighted average where 4*=4 points, 3*=3 points, 2*=2 points, and 1*=1 point, and (c) I then provided the Brooks ranking whereby 4*=10 points, 3*=5 points, 2*=2 points, and 1*=1 point. On my model, a 4* was twice as valuable than 3* and five times more than 2*.

It turns out that my Brooks ranking is almost identical with HEFCE's proposed weighting. Today, the Times Higher Education reports here that a 4* will count seven times more than 2* and 3* research will be funded three times that of 2*. Research at 1* and unranked will receive no funding at all. We can then use this ranking to come up with the following scale:

4* = 7 points
3* = 3 points
2* = 1 point
1* = 0 points
N/r = 0 points

The more points held by a department, the more that it will earn from the RAE exercise (multiplied by the numbers of staff submitted).

This then yields a new table based upon expected HEFCE funding of the RAE 2008 results in Politics:

1. Essex - 425
1. Sheffield - 425
3. Aberystwyth - 380
4. Oxford - 350
5. LSE - 330
6. UCL - 300
7. Warwick - 285
8. Exeter - 275
9. SOAS - 270
10. Sussex - 265
11. Cambridge - 260
11. Manchester - 260
13. Nottingham - 245
14. Durham - 240
15. Bradford - 235
16. Edinburgh - 230
17. KCL - 225
17. York - 225
19. QUB - 220
20. Newcastle - 215
21. Birkbeck - 210
21. St Andrews - 210
23. Birmingham - 195

I am pleased to say that my initial hunch was correct: this ranking is virtually identical to the Brooks weighted ranking. In terms of per staff submitted, the above ranking is how each Politics department stands.

Friday, January 23, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: ERIH to abolish A-C grades in journal ranking

We have reported before here on the European Science Foundation's "European Reference Index for the Humanities" (ERIH) and its journal rankings list. This list ranks journals A, B, and C --- with a list of unclassified journals.

In today's Times Higher Education, we find this story with the following breaking news:

"The architects of a controversial European journal-listing system for arts and humanities have made a major concession to those who fear that the index will be misused to judge the quality of academics' work.

The European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH) uses letters - A, B and C - to divide journals into "high-ranking international publications" (A), "standard international publications" (B) and those with important "local/regional significance" (C).

But the European Science Foundation (ESF), which is behind the index, agreed to drop the letters [. . .]".


Instead of letter rankings, there will be "descriptors" noted next to each journal. These will be made public over the next two months.

What is my view? I suspect that the descriptor-approach may be better than the rankings-approach . . . but this will depend on how each is described. Whereas the previous fight concerned ensuring all appropriate journals were at least ranked and then trying to ensure they were ranked appropriately (if they must be ranked at all -- which I continue to oppose), the fight now will turn to how journals are described.

Interested readers are advised to continue to watch this space. I will be following developments very closely not least as I prepare any representations to the ERIH concerning the Journal of Moral Philosophy.

UPDATE: I note that there is no mention of whether this new descriptor-approach will be used for the proposed assessment of book and conference proceeding publishers noted here. I will notify readers of any developments here as they arise.

Friday, January 16, 2009

You know your economy is in trouble when . . .

. . . you begin printing notes with 100,000,000,000,000 on them. Yes, the Z$100tr bill is out in Zimbabwe. Details from the BBC here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How Puritan was Guilford?



















The answer is very Puritan. Almost directly across the street from where I grew up, you would find the sign above --- with "Regicide Cellar" in large letters --- on our neighbour's home. The sign then reads as follows:

"Here in June, 1661 William Leete, then Governor of New Haven Colony, concealed for three days Whalley & Goffe, two of the judges who signed the death warrant of Charles I of England. They were sought by emissaries of Charles II who, after the restoration, ordered the regicides beheaded."

The full names of the regicides are Edward Whalley and William Goffe. New Haven has a Whalley Avenue (named for Edward Whalley?) and there is a local primary school named after William Leete. The safety for Puritan regicides in Guilford is clear: few, if any, monarchists were about. Indeed, Whalley and Goffe lived out their lives and were never captured by the British.

The home that once hid the regicides was later used as part of the Underground Railway.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Newcastle Ethics, Legal, and Political Philosophy Spring Seminar Series 2009

The Newcastle Ethics, Legal, and Political Philosophy (NELPP) 2009 spring seminar series is the following:

28th January
Professor Albert Weale (Essex)
Talking Contracts?

11th February (tbc)
Professor Sir Neil MacCormick QC (Edinburgh)
Institutionalism: The Best Theory of Law

18th February
Professor Chris Brink (Vice Chancellor, Newcastle)
On Minorities

25th February
Professor Philip van der Eijk (Classics, Newcastle)
Did Aristotle have a concept of intelligence?

4th March
Dr Jan Deckers (Medicine, Newcastle)
Animal Rights and Process Thought

14th March
Pettit and His Critics conference
Speakers will include Thom Brooks (Newcastle), Cecile Laborde (UCL), Michael Ridge (Edinburgh), and Philip Pettit (Princeton).

15th April
Dr Ian O’Flynn (Politics, Newcastle)
Deliberating the Public Interest

13th May
Professor Hartmut Behr (Politics, Newcastle)
Compromise as a Style of Thought and Ideology Critique

12th June
Nussbaum’s Liberty of Conscience: Author Meets Critics
Speakers will include Peter Jones (Newcastle), Chandran Kukathas (LSE), Susan Mendus (York), Anne Phillips (LSE), and Martha C. Nussbaum (Chicago).

All meetings will take place in the Politics Building room G6 at Newcastle University from 4.00-6.00pm. Meetings are open to the public. The only exceptions will be the two conferences and further information on them will be forthcoming. For more details, please contact me.

RAE 2008 and the British job market

Several readers have asked me about the possible effects of the recently completed RAE 2008 on the job market in the UK. For those unfamiliar with the RAE system, essentially every department in every subject is reviewed by a panel of peers every seven years or so. The panel assesses the research quality of a department looking at factors such as (a) publications, (b) research environment, and (c) esteem amongst many others. The better a department scores, the more research cash its university will receive. Thus, departments care about performing well. The most recent assessment --- covering 1 January 2001 through 31 December 2007 --- has just taken place and the results published.

My best guess is that there will be very few job announcements --- particularly for permanent posts --- until at least late March/early April. This is because we will not know until March precisely what the recently released assessment scores for each department will mean in terms of funding. After universities can assess their performance in terms of expected cash flows, we might then begin seeing new posts advertised.

The one potential concern amongst all of this is that some departments may have done better than expected or at least have met expectations. However, some will have performed much worse. This may complicate the job market as universities determine the way forward, but (again) I doubt there will be much activity until the results are known in terms of how much cash will accompany the scores.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Committee on Philosophy and Law news

I am pleased to announce news from the American Philosophical Association's Committee on Philosophy and Law. The new membership has just been announced:


Chair:

Thom Brooks (Newcastle)


Members:

Michael Steven Green (William & Mary)

David Lefkowitz (UNC, Greensboro)

Melinda Roberts (College of New Jersey)

Kevin Toh (Indiana)

Alec Walen (Maryland)

Steve Scalet and Chris Griffin edit the Committee's Newsletter.

The group has benefitted greatly from members departing this summer, including Judith Wagner DeCew (Clark), Keith Gunderson (Macalester), Ken Himma (Seattle Pacific), and, most especially, the current (outstanding) chair Julie Van Camp (UC, Long Beach). I certainly look forward to working with such a terrific team!

Moreover, I should also say how pleased I am to know that one can be in a non-philosophy department ---I am in Politics--- and in a non-US department ---I am in the United Kingdom--- and still be granted such an opportunity. I would strongly encourage fellow ex-pats and others in the UK and elsewhere who regularly attend the APA's conferences to become active in the APA's many committees.