This post is based on the analysis of the impact case studies submitted to REF 2014, carried out by King’s College London team.Read the full analysis here
REF 2014 was the first exercise to assess the impact of research outside of academia. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) submitted case studies to REF 2014 which aimed to showcase how research undertaken over the past 20 years had benefited society beyond academia – whether in the UK or globally. The case studies outline the effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life that have arisen from research.
Key findings of the analysis
Over 85% of REF 2014 impact case studies included multidisciplinary research
Case studies were diverse and wide ranging
The impact of UK HEIs is global
‘Informing government policy‘was the largest type of impact across all panels, followed by ‘Parliamentary scrutiny‘ and ‘Technology commercialisation’
Interestingly, despite the allowable period for underpinning research stretching back to 1993, the majority of research cited was published since 2008
Top beneficiaries of impact from case studies submitted to REF 2014 are companies, students and children. The top three beneficiaries of impact from the case studies submitted to Panel D (Art & Design: History, Practice and Theory) are students, schools and communities. Click here to see the distribution of all potential beneficiaries of research impact found in REF 2014 case studies.
As mentioned in our previous blog the report on UoA 34 mentions that Art & Design (UoA 34) proved itself as a leader ininterdisciplinary research. In REF 2014 interdisciplinarity emerged as a distinct and a growing phenomenon, particularly within areas of product and digital design, film, curatorship, media studies, conceptual and performance based art practice.
An interesting point for reflection is that although Art & Design (UoA 34) did feature a significant volume of interdisciplinary research it was not identified as such by the submitting HEIs.
Professor Judith Petts, Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive, University of Plymouth distinguishes several important factors that can impede or encourage interdisciplinary research. Please refer to HEFCE blog for the full article.
The policy landscape
Interdisciplinary outputs in REF 2014 were rated equally well to mono- disciplinary ones
Despite the fact that the academic community values interdisciplinary research, many would not advise an early-career researcher to participate before they had established their own disciplinary credentials.
Working away from home
Working away from your discipline can be somewhat uncomfortable
a large team working across different sites, organisations or sectors; or
funders and publishers guiding and sourcing reviewers with the skills and diversity of understanding to ensure robust and effective peer review of interdisciplinary proposals and work
Culture and structure of the academic organisations
There is a real opportunity to promote the research landscape that delivers and facilitates interdisciplinary research that addresses complex socio-economic and more global challenges.
In REF 2014, UCA submitted to Unit of Assessment 34 – Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory which was part of Panel D. This blog and the two to follow, will provide a synopsis of the key data on submissions, feedback on the process of assessment and an overview of the research in the sector. Click here, if you would like to read the whole report.
Unit 34 comprised all areas of art and design, including practice, art history and art theory. This sector proved itself as a leader in interdisciplinary research, particularly evident in product and digital design, film curatorship, media studies, conceptual and performance based art practice. A significant number of collaborative, team driven projects went beyond the main panel’s remit and into engineering, medical and digital design. It was also the leader in practice-based research.
Unit 34 received the widest range of output types across the whole REF exercise.
Photographic practice and Design were noted for their large number of high quality outputs.
The Crafts were noted for the growth in the interface between traditional making practices and digital technologies, but the number of outputs had significantly declined since RAE 2008, probably as a result of the closure of programmes.
Emergent research activity was noticeable in curatorial studies, critical theory and digital and engineering design.
Inter-cultural fine art practice was an important feature. Practice connected to ethnography and anthropology in fine art, design and theoretical studies was especially noted.
Exhibition activity across all subject areas had grown considerably since RAE 2008 and collaboration between practice-based researchers and museum professionals led to the expansion of fields of practice in museological and archival environments.
The history and theory of art, architecture and design revealed itself to be a major national strength.
Physical objects were only a small percentage of the total submission.
57% of the total submission in this sector was from publishing – authored books, edited books, chapters in books and journal articles.