What does excellence mean? How is it measured? When do we know that we have reached the required standard? These are difficult questions, but if the excellence agenda is to be taken seriously, they must be asked — even if they cannot be adequately answered.
First, the idea of excellence as a measure of research quality makes many people uncomfortable. And second, these people — despite their discomfort — cannot suggest anything better, given that science and scientists must meet political demands of accountability and assessment.