Discussion paper
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Over the last forty years, there has been a change of worlds in funding research in the arts and humanities (‘AH research’). In the Old World, there was little direct funding or assessment of AH research. Individual academics pursued their scholarly and intellectual work in combination with their teaching, with few checks or incentives, beyond professional esteem and the desire for knowledge itself. In the New World, AH research is funded directly, on the model of the natural sciences, and it is subject to frequent assessment; and the connection between it and teaching has been reduced.  Although they might seem to bring gains for AH research, these changes endanger it. Good AH research does not consist of projects aimed at answering a specific question or providing a given set of information which can be set out in advance and divided among a group. It is an open-ended activity, uncertain in its aims, which needs to be carried out by an individual, over the course of years and decades; and it is intrinsically tied to another activity, that of teaching. AH research needs to be based on people – university teachers – not projects. Too much, inappropriate assessment should be abandoned, because it distorts or destroys what it sets out to measure, and the public money for AH research projects should be used, instead, to support full university jobs, involving teaching and research.

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