The evaluation of research in the UK and Japan
Most industrial countries have introduced a system of evaluation in the HE sector during the last two decades. Although the experience in each country is different, recent studies show that many countries have faced similar confusion and problems with regard to the application of evaluation. This study examines the validity of the present systems of evaluation for research in the UK and Japan, based on in-depth consideration of the factors behind the emergence of evaluation, political developments, policymakers' views, academic debates and institutional reactions in both nations. As an example of a response to the government's initiative, one case study in each country is undertaken, Warwick University in Britain and Nagoya University in Japan. Each case is analysed at three levels: institutional, departmental and individual. Some elements of the systems are then recontexualised in a comparative perspective, involving the analysis of background factors, development of the systems, details of the mechanisms and their impacts. An improved system of evaluation is suggested for each country. It is argued that evaluation intrinsically is an unseen but extremely powerful instrument. It has the dynamic force to be able to alter the original nature of all of those involved. When it is applied to academic research in the university, therefore, its effects could be immeasurable. Hence, it should be treated with prudent deliberation before implementation. It is pointed out that the current systems of research assessment in the UK and Japan have both produced a number of unintended effects, and both nations have not yet been successful in establishing a system which can judge quality appropriatel y. The study suggests that more serious consideration of the nature of 'evaluation' and its application to research will be required before developing further the present systems adopted in both countries. This should be backed by sufficient research studies on 'evaluation'.