Writing 300 word statements part 1: what are they and why are they needed?

For REF2014, individual research outputs were assessed on the basis of three types of evidence:

  • the output itself
  • a supporting portfolio
  • information about the research process and/or context

For the last of these, universities were able to submit 300 word statements. Although these were not compulsory, almost all submissions of research outputs included such statements, using the 300 words to explain succinctly how the output met the criteria against which REF outputs are judged: originality, significance and rigour.

The 300 word statements were particularly importantly for practice-based research. It’s arguable that a written output (eg a book, chapter or journal article) should already contain a clear and concise explanation of its originality, significance and rigour—although there is nothing to be lost by summarising this in a short additional statement. However, for practice-based research, the 300 words statement is essential to set out the basis and merits of the research.

This is how the REF defines each of the criteria used for judging outputs:

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 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

There has been no indication that these criteria will be revised for REF2021, or that the facility to submit 300 word statements will change. As part of preparations for REF2021, we need to start generating 300 word statements for all individual research outputs that are likely to be submitted.

Update on the consultation for REF 2021

On 19 July HEFCE held a webinar providing updates on REF 2021 policy developments related to the submission of staff and output portability. You can read two blogs (links provided below) which contain full details of the developments. Here are the main points:

Staff Submission

UK funding bodies

  • Accept Stern’s view that all academic staff who have any significant responsibility to undertake research should be returned to the REF and intend to take an inclusive approach
  • But also recognise that there is no clear alternative to easily identify staff with a significant responsibility to undertake research

Based on the above, HEIs are given two options in relation to staff submission:

  1. 100% of staff submission – straightforward, no burden associated with staff selectivity
  2. Institutional identification of staff who are not required to carry out research and hence not submitting those staff members – high burden in terms of high selectivity and documentation. an auditable evidence will need to be provided where there is no expectation to undertake research (e.g. career pathway or workload model)
Portability or non-portability of research

Funding bodies are putting forward the following models:

  1. Both, ‘old’ and ‘new’ institutions would have credit for an output, i.e. the institution where the research output was demonstrably generated and at which the member of staff was employed would be able to retain full credit. However, the credit would also go to the new institution.
  2. Hybrid model,  limited non-portability from a set point in time. This is complicated(!): a date will be set from which new rules will apply. This means there will be 2 rules in operation depending on whether the academic moved before or after the set date.

– If they move before the set date, they can take their outputs with them and only the new institution can claim these outputs (full portability, as in REF 2014).

– If they move after the set date they will be able to take a limited number of outputs (probably max of 2, tbc).

– Any other outputs could be submitted by the institution where an academic was employed when the output was first publicly made available.  

 Next steps
  • The proposals concerning both staff selectivity and the portability of outputs remain loose and require clarity and precision
  • HEFCE will initiate a period of discussion with institutions about the precise wording of the broad proposals provided above
  • Initial decisions on these issues will come out in autumn

Please visit the following blogs for the full details:

http://wonkhe.com/blogs/analysis-update-reforms-ref-2021/

http://blog.hefce.ac.uk/2017/07/20/the-portability-or-non-portability-of-research/

REF Main Panel Chairs announced

 The four Main Panel Chairs for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) have been confirmed

  • Main Panel A: Medicine, health and life sciences – Professor John Iredale, Pro Vice-Chancellor Health, University of Bristol
  • Main Panel B: Physical sciences, engineering and mathematics – Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research), University College London
  • Main Panel C: Social sciences – Professor Jane Millar OBE, Professor of Social Policy and former Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, University of Bath.
  • Main Panel D: Arts and humanities – Professor Dinah Birch CBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact, University of Liverpool.

Please refer to the following link for further details: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2017/Name,114700,en.htm l

REF and UCA Research Online: a reminder!

It does not matter how good your research article is, if it is not Open Access, it is not eligible for REF!

Open Access is the free, unrestricted online access to research, and is now a national requirement for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The key points:

Journal articles must be uploaded to UCA Research Online within 3 months of their acceptance date (not the publication date) in order to be eligible for REF. This version must be your accepted manuscript (not the publisher’s PDF).

All other research outputs should be uploaded to UCA Research Online (such as book chapters you have authored, exhibitions of your work) as UCA may get extra credit at REF for providing Open Access to all types of research outputs.

Making your work Open Access will also benefit you as a researcher – it helps to raise your research profile, with studies showing increased citation rates.

 Actions

As soon as you are notified that an article has been accepted for publication, upload it to UCA Research Online.

How can I add my research outputs?

Login with your UCA username/password at research.uca.ac.uk

There is a how-to video at research.uca.ac.uk/help/deposit.html

Contact us

Contact us at ucaro@uca.ac.uk

Staff in Library & Student Services can help you on uploading your research, adhering to the policy and any rules from publishers.

To view the REF Open Access policy in full, see: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2016/201635/

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.