Research Outputs – Artefacts

As well as books, journal articles, and papers, research outputs in the arts also include other types of outputs. These include:

• Artefacts
• Devices and Products
• Performance
• Exhibition
• Composition
• Design
• Software
• Website content
• Digital or visual media

KRblacklacestillforwebIn this post we are going to look at Artefacts. This may include physical artefacts such as textiles, ceramics, collages, glass vessels, soundscapes, artwork, sculpture. These artefacts are often exhibited, but the exhibition is not the research output, it is the artefact in the exhibition that is the research output.
The curator of the exhibition could submit the exhibition as their research output.

Listed below are examples of the Research Outputs from UCA REF2014 that had physical artefacts as the research output. You can click on the link to find out more about the research that led to these outputs.

Black Lace, commissioned site-sensitive video and sound installation
Box 1 and Box 2, two pieces of textile quilt
Fall, mural, monoprints
Gango series I-III, three ceramic vessels
Handkerchiefs, site-specific textile installation
Homage to ‘Hay on the Highway’
Line and Damaged, two textile artworks
Metamorphosis and Transformation, twenty-one interrelated clear glass vessels
Notes from Home, an installation of five hand-made photobooks
Robing Peter to Pay Paul, textiles
Stains and Stories: Latent narrative in worn clothing, textiles
Ten Steps to Heaven – part of 14 Artists’ Interventions at the Swedenborg
The Search for Andy Warhol’s Voice, curated sound installation
Untitled, 7 new pieces, created especially for a solo exhibition
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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.

Use of portfolios in REF 2014: UoA 34 – Report on Submissions

REF 2014 Report on Submissions flagged up an importance of portfolios which had been initially introduced to aid institutions in presenting the research dimensions of creative practice. UCA submitted physical portfolios providing clarity on the research questions and methodology, and any supporting materials that would help the panel members with the assessment process.

The panel found that the best examples were presented digitallyclearly outlined the research question and the methodology employed and provided complementary evidence about the work itself.

However, a significant proportion of portfolios submitted were not helpful especially when the submission of evaluative commentary was more concerned with the esteem, impact and status of the output than with the research i.e. contained mainly review and publicity materials. or when they contained disparate materials without an index or clear organisational structure.

Unit of Assessment 34 – Report on REF 2014 Submissions

Background

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.

The Outputs

To summarise:

  • 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.

Continue reading “Unit of Assessment 34 – Report on REF 2014 Submissions”

Awarding ‘Extra Points’

As I mentioned in my previous post HEFCE intends to give ‘extra REF points’ to the institutions which publish outputs other than journal articles and conference proceedings on the open access basis. I had a conversation with Amy Robinson, Repository Manager at UCA and our initial thoughts are that we generally agree with HEFCE’s proposition as long as the extra points are awarded to all types of research outputs submitted to REF, including non text based outputs.  If the extra points only apply to text-based outputs, such as monographs, this will unfairly disadvantage specialist arts institutions and will marginalize and disincentive open access. 54% of UCA’s outputs in the last REF were practice-based outputs!

We also support the proposal because the existing REF Open Access requirement in relation to journal articles and conference papers has complicated UCA’s internal advocacy for Open Access for all types of outputs and caused confusion to researchers.  We need to provide a clear, simple and consistent message to our researchers that values Open Access to all of their research.

There needs to be a very clear guidance about what constitutes ‘Open Access’ for non text based outputs, and REF could provide some useful clarification on this, e.g. the need for visual documentation, and not just metadata.