I was looking at the ABS website earlier (everyone needs a hobby). I came across this interesting little phrase: ‘The ABS Executive Committee has decided that no new version of the ABS Academic Journal Quality Guide will be issued before the REF 2014 results are published’ (http://www.associationofbusinessschools.org/node/1000257).
Given that the last list was published in 2010, and the version prior to that was published in 2009, we might wonder why there’s such a gap now.
Are the ABS Executive telling us that they have done an analysis and, unlike the gap between 2009 and 2010 when things changed drastically, there’s nothing new to report? (If this is the case, why not just release the updated list anyway). Or that they have done whatever it is they do to create the list and things have changed but they don’t want people to know? Or that they don’t think it’s worthwhile looking to see what’s happened since 2010?
Given the widely acknowledged use of the ABS list by university administrators and research directors in preparation for the REF, is this really the time for the ABS list to take this kind of decision? Indeed, given the widespread critique of the ABS list since 2010 could they not find ways to improve their methods and respond to the critics?
Explain yourself ABS Executive!
Personally, I’m generally sympathetic to the ABS and pity them for the use of the List. Prof Rowlinson describes his motivations for working on the ABS List and you can’t help but think he makes a lot of sense. But this kind of arbitrary unexplained decision totally undermines their claims for objectivity.
I suspect that what’s really going on here is that they know full well that a new list would discredit ways the ABS List is used in the real world even if it would actually make it more useful. And that the kinds of people who like the ABS List in its current form might not like it to be revised for fear of no longer being a four star man/woman. … Which is obviously pathetic.