Architectural Blatherations

University of New South Wales writes to Us

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The Good Oil

We received this email from Dr Tom Loveday, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of New South Wales, in response to our ratings of the professors in terms of architectural research. He makes some important points. We have responded to him here.

As Dr Loveday's email was sent from his university address—and forwarded to his Dean, Prof Peter Murphy—we take his email as expressing the formal views of himself, his Faculty, his Dean, and his university.

Dr Loveday's email

I am writing this in response to your research in which you have ranked architectural academics titled: Rating the Architectural Professors in Research: 2008 Report, Initial Release, March 2008

No doubt many academics have found the ranking offensive and have already sent emails and letters complaining. I too feel rather miffed at the being ranked below the 50th percentile. However, despite my own feelings on the matter, an injustice has been done in a more general sense, as I have outlined here.

Many of the academics that you have ranked in the below the 50th percentile range have made significant contributions to interdisciplinary fields as well as fields other that architecture, such as design, philosophy, sociology, art history and art theory and are recognised in their fields as having done so. Some are also involved in various creative research in art and design, in which they are also highly regarded.

To portray these particular academics as below the 50th percentile suggests that they are poor performers, which is simply not the case. While this is generally recognised among academic circles, especially within Australia, it is not well known among prospective research students and others, especially internationally.

The problem seems to be that the researcher in this paper has a very limited view of the measure of academic activity in architecture. There are many destinations for research related to architecture that are not included in the sources listed. In particular there are the much larger and more competitive fields of art history and philosophy. To gain a more balance view of the activity of architectural academics would require measurement in these fields.

Out of consideration for actual people involved, I ask that you add an explanation along these lines and re-publish the report accompanied by a retraction of the first publication, including an apology to those affected:

This research does not measure activities architectural academics in other fields, especially those related to but not necessarily within architecture, which can give the impression that some academics are not research active. The intention with this research is not to denigrate research academics in fields related to architecture. Any impression that academics are not research active purely the result of the limited measure applied to research outputs.

This would ensure that those involved are presented in a way that reflects their actual standing in their respective fields, especially when read by those who might be unfamiliar with the workings of academia.

No offense is intended by this email and I hope none is taken. I only hope that this matter can be resolved in a reasonable way, as one usually finds with those in intellectual life.

Many thanks for your time,


Dr Thomas Loveday BArch MVA PhD
Senior Lecturer
Faculty of the Built Environment
The University of New South Wales
NSW 2052
Tel +61 2 9385 5119