Writing 300 word statements part 2: looking for examples and writing a draft

The REF2014 website makes public all the research outputs that were submitted for the last REF, including the 300 word statements. On the website: http://results.ref.ac.uk/, click on ‘results and submissions’; you can then select a particular institution, or a Unit of Assessment (UCA submitted solely to UOA34, Art and Design: History, Theory and Practice in REF2014, and is likely to do so again). There are several routes in: you are looking for ‘Research Outputs’ (REF2). Clicking on an individual output brings up exactly what was submitted into the REF form, including the 300 word statement, which is under the ‘Additional Information’ heading.

It’s worth exploring some examples. Unfortunately, we don’t know which outputs received a high ranking, being judged to be 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent). The REF only publishes its results as a quality profile of all the outputs submitted by a single institution to a single UOA. However, looking at a really successful submission, where almost all of the outputs were judged to be 4* or 3*, will bring up statements for outputs that are very likely to have been highly ranked. An example is the University of Westminster’ submission to UOA34, where 85 per cent of outputs were ranked at 3* or 4*, and nothing fell below 2*.

Find some examples and note how the research is described: how directly does the statement address the criteria of originality, significance and rigour? What evidence does it give? Find examples in your discipline that do a good job of describing the research against the criteria.

The following questions should be useful in drafting 300 word statements:

Originality

What were the contexts to the research? What had other people done before? What did you do that was different? (think in terms of a literature review, contextual review, or scoping exercises)

Significance

So what? What has changed in your field (however narrowly defined) as a result of this research? (new knowledge, contribution)

Rigour

What were the research questions? What were your aims? What processes did you follow? What were the theoretical frameworks? (methods, sources, procedures)

Don’t waste words describing the research: for non-text outputs, for instance exhibitions, there is another box for this (‘title and brief description’), where you can explain exactly what form the research took. If this applies to your output, draft this text too (provisionally up to 100 words).

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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.

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/

Good practice in research and development partnering — HEFCE blog

Last week we published an initial analysis of all the evidence that we have compiled to date about good practice in research commercialisation, and invited university experts to provide us with additional views, weblinks and papers as responses to a survey. This evidence will inform the work of the HEFCE-universities Knowledge Exchange Framework programme. We…

via Good practice in research and development partnering — HEFCE blog