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/

Hefce Webinar 19th July Submitting Staff and Outputs

Hefce REF events

Staff and outputs webinar: 19 July 2017, 0930-1030

Following additional development work on the submission of staff and outputs in REF2021, this webinar aims to share the direction of policy in advance of publications on the initial decisions for the next REF.

At this webinar David Sweeney (Executive Chair Designate, Research England, and Director, Research and Knowledge Exchange, HEFCE) and Kim Hackett (REF Manager, HEFCE) will discuss the developing direction of policy relating to the submission of staff and outputs to REF 2021.

Register for the webinar

Register for the webinar

We encourage delegates to register before the event. If you experience any problems when registering please email researchpolicy@hefce.ac.uk or call 0117 931 7062.

After registering you can test your connection for technical issues on the Workcast website.

A recording of the webinar will be available following the event.

Why we are holding this webinar

Responses to the recent consultation on the second REF showed that some additional development work is needed in order to finalise the framework. This includes work on proposals around the submission of staff and outputs in the assessment.

To inform initial decisions on these areas the REF team have been engaging in dialogue with the sector. This webinar will outline the direction of policy in advance of publications on the initial decisions for REF 2021.

Q&A: Outputs

  1. What does “effectively shared” mean in relation to the research outputs?

A research output is a product of the research activity, first brought into the public domain during the REF publication period. We anticipate that the REF 2021 publication period will be 1 January 2014 – 31 December 2020. Click here for REF 2014 definition of research.

2. Will certain output types score more than others?

No, in their guidance UoA 34: Art & Design: History, Practice and Theory state that they 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.’

3. What kind of outputs were submitted to REF 2014 within UoA 34?

For full details on the types of outputs submitted to UoA 34, please refer to the Overview report by Main Panel D, p.86.  It identifies three evident features:

1) the number of artefacts, in the form of physical objects, was only 11% of the total submission.

2) Published material remained core to the sector and formed  57% of the submission. It included authored books, edited books, chapters in books, and journal articles.  Considerable amount of submitted text came from art and design practice.

3) Exhibition activity increased since RAE 2008. This activity was spread relatively evenly across all discipline areas.

4. Will certain publishers or exhibition venues  advantage or disadvantage the outputs?

No, all outputs will be assessed regardless of where they’ve been published or exhibited, as long as they meet REF definition of research.

5. I am working on the revised version of the output that I submitted to the REF 2014. Can I submit it to REF 2021?

According to REF 2014: Panel Criteria and Working Methods (p. 85, para. 55) you can submit an output which includes significant material in common with an output published prior to the REF publication output. The submission should explain how the earlier work was revised to incorporate new material. We expect this to remain same in REF 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

Interdisciplinary Research

As mentioned in our previous blog the report on UoA 34 mentions that Art & Design (UoA 34) proved itself as a leader in interdisciplinary 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
General complexities

related to:

  • 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
Opportunities

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.

Read more below about interdisciplinarity in Stern review and in HEFCE consultation  Continue reading “Interdisciplinary Research”

A moment for REFlection

We’ve spent a good part of the past few months discussing the proposals with a wide range of people and organisations – thank you all for your willingness to engage and share your ideas. We’ve already shared a lot of the feedback we’ve heard so far. We’ll now pause for breath as we focus on…

via A moment for REFlection — HEFCE blog

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.