The following article was published on Monday, November 26, 2018 by PLoS One.
Lloyd D. Balbuena
University of Saskatchewan
PLoS ONE 13(11): e0207919
With the high cost of the research assessment exercises in the UK, many have called for simpler and less time-consuming alternatives. In this work, we gathered publicly available REF data, combined them with library-subscribed data, and used machine learning to examine whether the overall result of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 could be replicated. A Bayesian additive regression tree model predicting university grade point average (GPA) from an initial set of 18 candidate explanatory variables was developed. One hundred and nine universities were randomly divided into a training set (n = 79) and test set (n = 30). The model “learned” associations between GPA and the other variables in the training set and was made to predict the GPA of universities in the test set. GPA could be predicted from just three variables: the number of Web of Science documents, entry tariff, and percentage of students coming from state schools (r-squared = .88). Implications of this finding are discussed and proposals are given.
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