Output Assessment

In REF 2014 the criteria for all outputs, whatever genre or medium, was that they met the definition of research.  We expect this to remain the same for REF 2021, subject to confirmation in July 2017.

UoA 34: Art & Design: History, Practice and Theory was very clear in its guidance that it would “neither advantage nor disadvantage any type of research or form of output, whether it’s physical or virtual, textual or non-textual, visual or sonic, static or dynamic, digital or analogue.”

Research outputs may include, but were not limited to the following: books (authored or edited); chapters in books; journal articles; working papers; published conference papers; electronic resources and publications; exhibition or museum catalogues; translations; scholarly editions; creative writing and compositions; curatorship and conservation; databases; grammars; dictionaries; digital and broadcast media; performances and other types of live presentation; artefacts; designs and exhibitions; films, videos and other types of media presentation; software design and development; advisory report; the creation of archival or specialist collections to support the research infrastructure.

Criteria for assessing outputs

Outputs in REF 2014 were assessed in terms of originality, significance and rigour

  • Originality: a creative/intellectual advance that makes an important and innovative contribution to understanding and knowledge. This may include substantive empirical findings, new arguments, interpretations or insights, imaginative scope, assembling of information in an innovative way, development of new theoretical frameworks and conceptual models, innovative methodologies and/or new forms of expression.
  • Significance: the enhancement or deserved enhancement of knowledge, thinking, understanding and/or practice.
  • Rigour: intellectual coherence, methodological precision and analytical power; accuracy and depth of scholarship; awareness of and appropriate engagement with other relevant work.

Please refer to Panel Criteria and Working Methods (pp.82-88) for full details.

Practice Based Research: main points

According to REF 2014 definition, research is a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared.

In the next series of our posts we will be focusing on research and research outputs, with particular emphasis on research in Art & Design.

Breaking down the REF definition in smaller components of ‘process of investigation’, ‘leading to new insights‘ and ‘effectively shared‘ may offer a useful means to study this definition more closely. This post will look at the ‘process of investigation’ and ‘leading to new insights’

‘Process of investigation’ or a process of inquiry is mainly concerned with research strategy and methodology. More traditional research methodologies are characterized by well-established and widely shared strategy and procedures, using very clear research methods (Haseman and Mafe, 2009). For example, let’s try to map the above REF definition with social research paradigm:

process of investigation’ needs to:

  • Have clearly stated aims, that are
  • Related to existing knowledge and needs, and that are
  • Investigated within limitations imposed through time, money and opportunity
  • Use precise and valid data collected and used in a justifiable way

new insights’ need to:

  • Contribute something new to knowledge
  • Produce finding from which generalizations can be made (Denscombe, 2002)

Artists and creative practitioners do not always operate within conventional research strategies and methodological assumptions, although some traditional methodologies may meet some of the artists’ needs (e.g. reflective practice, action research , grounded theory and participant observation).  Practice based research is a distinctive and widely established research strategy with the methods stemming from long-standing and accepted working methods and practices of the creative disciplines (Haseman and Mafe, 2009)

What is Practice based research?

Carole Gray in Inquiry through practice: developing appropriate research strategies proposes the following definition and sets out two aspects:

‘… firstly, research which is initiated in practice, where questions, problems, challenges are identified and formed by the needs of practice and practitioners; and secondly, that the research strategy is carried out through practice, using predominantly methodologies and specific methods familiar to us as practitioners in the visual arts.’

Gray’s definition offers practice as a focal point of the research process: the questions are informed by the practice and the investigation is carried out through practice. The main quality of the methodology seems to be responsiveness, driven by the requirements of practice and the creative dynamic of the artwork.

According to Gray, practice and theory are reciprocal. Critical practice generates theory and theory informs practice. One of the characteristics of practice-based research is the use of visual and multi media methods of information gathering, selection, analysis, synthesis, presentation/communication.

Some of the specific research methods used within practice based research are:

making art/design work; observation and drawing (in all forms);sketchbook/notebook, idiosyncratic notation/symbol;  visual diaries/self reflection/personal narrative/ critical writing; photography, video, sound;  models/maquettes, experimentation with materials; concept mapping, diagrams; use of metaphor and analogy; organisational and analytical matrices, flow charts, story boards; multimedia/hypermedia applications; modelling/simulations, soft systems; electronic databases, visual and textual glossaries and archives. These have been augmented with useful social science methods, usually adapted in some way, e.g.: case study, participant-observation, personal constructs, interviews, questionnaires, multidimensional analysis, evaluative techniques like semantic differential, multiple sorting.

 

References:

Denscombe,M.(2002) Ground Rules for Good Research: a 10 point guide for social researchers, Maidenhead: Open University Press pp.2-3

Gray, C.(1996) Inquiry through practice: developing appropriate research strategies, available at: http://carolegray.net/Papers%20PDFs/ngnm.pdf [accessed on 23 May, 2017]

Haseman,B. Mafe, D.(2009) Acquiring Know-How: Research Training for Practice-led Researchers. In: H.Smith, R.T.Dean,ed., Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts, 1st ed. Edinburgh:Edinburgh University Press Ltd., pp.211-228

 

Impact: Tool Kit for Public Engagement with Research

Visiting the Solent Research Conference recently, we had a session from Southampton University on ‘Public Engagement with Research’.

They have developed a tool kit, which is open to all researchers, based on a three step process. You can check this out here-http://www.southampton.ac.uk/per/2017/evaluation-planning.page

As many art research outputs include engaging with the public, this maybe a useful source of information for planning evaluation and impact of projects.

  • What are you trying to achieve with the project?
  • How should this be measured?
  • What do you need to measure for your funder?
  • How will your work contribute to any required reporting to your funder?
  • Can you measure impact?

The AHRC recommend using a logic model for engagement and evaluation planning, and they use the Kirkpatrick Model for levels of potential impact. You can access an example of the Logic model on the above website in step 1.

You can checkout our recent blog on Impact Case Studies for an example of UCA Public Engagement in Research  – Lost In Lace.

Spotlight on UCA Impact Case Studies

Following on from the previous post providing an anaysis of REF 2014 impact case studies, here’s a spotlight on UCA’s three case studies submitted to REF 2014.

Eco-Design and Eco-Innovation Into Business

Impact type: product sustainability, eco-innovation and design, circular economy

Main beneficiaries: Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) 

Professor Martin Charter has directed The Centre for Sustainable Design ® at UCA since 1999. During this time he has developed a body of research concerning sustainable and eco-innovation, and sustainable and eco-design, with a particular focus on organisational implementation within business. This has led to a widespread programme of dissemination and application to SMEs through funded projects, publications, consultancy and training.

Lost in Lace

Impact type: Economic. Audience Development, Curatorial Innovation

Main beneficiaries: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Crafts Council

Lost in Lace was an exhibition curated by Professor Lesley Millar MBE at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG), between 29 Oct. 2011 and 19 Feb. 2012. The project was presented by BMAG and the Crafts Council (CC) as the inaugural exhibition of the CC biennial Fifty:Fifty partnership programme. An independently commissioned evaluation reports that significant economic impact, audience development and curatorial innovation resulted from this work. BMAG and the CC were the principal beneficiaries of this impact in that the exhibition and its associated programme of activities fulfilled their stated strategic aims and ambitions for the specific project and wider organisational goals.

 

Communities of Practice in Contemporary Craft

Impact type: Curatorial innovation

Main beneficiaries: Craft practitioners

The University for the Creative Arts has a longstanding commitment to the history, practice, and theory of craft. The research of the Crafts Study Centre (CSC) and Anglo-Japanese Textile Research Centre (AJTRC) has long championed the work of craft practitioners in order to find new ways of thinking through creative practice. This curatorial work, public facing in nature, has contributed to the personal, professional and creative development of a range of craft practitioners by offering an enquiry-led platform for the exploration of craft as profession. Though this research has brought numerous benefits to a wide range of people and organisations, this case study explains specific qualitative and quantitative benefits brought to a number of craft practitioners by this work.