Category / Research assessment

HEFCE consultation on REF2021 – what you need to know

ref-logoIt hardly feels like the dust has settled on the results from the last Research Excellence Framework, yet here we are again – almost half way through another research assessment cycle with HEFCE proposing potential changes to the next exercise. It feels like I’ve been transported back to 2009 when HEFCE were running bibliometrics and impact pilots to inform REF2014. I have to remind myself that it is in fact 2017 and things have moved on. We are now talking about REF2021 (how time flies!) and HEFCE have launched a consultation on how this exercise might work. Whilst citations and impact are still on the agenda for discussion, they are joined by other substantial changes that, if adopted, will transform the shape and potentially outcome of the next exercise.

The proposed changes have been informed by Lord Stern’s independent review of the REF which was published last July. This made 12 recommendations on how the next REF could be strengthened, whilst reducing the bureaucracy and cost of running the exercise (read Jane Forster’s overview of the recommendations – Stern review of the REF: what next?). These recommendations have now been reviewed by the four UK HE funding bodies and, prior to Christmas, HEFCE published proposals to amend the REF to incorporate the recommendations. HEFCE’s proposals are now open for consultation with the sector.

The document itself is fairly lengthy and dense, and over 40 questions are put forward for consideration. The key proposals are:

  • All research-active staff to be submitted
  • The decoupling of staff from outputs
  • Outputs will no longer be portable across institutions
  • All outputs must be available in open access form (with some exceptions)
  • Impact will have a broader definition
  • Institutional environment narratives and case studies to be submitted

There are some excellent summaries available online, many of which provide thoughts on what the proposals could mean in practice. The following summaries are particularly informative and worth reading: HEFCE launches consultation on REF2021, Soft Stern or Hard Stern and Implementing REF2021.

BU will be submitting an institutional response to the consultation before the deadline of 17th March. As these are significant proposals, all staff will have the opportunity to contribute to the response. As a number of the key questions would benefit from a discipline-level response, UoA teams (UoA leaders, impact champions and output champions) are calling meetings within Faculties to hold discussions related to their own UoA. These will take place over the next month or so. Contact a member of your UoA team for further information. Staff not based in Faculties are also invited to comment on the proposals and can do so via their Director/Head of Professional Service.

The are various REF-focused conferences and events taking place over the next few months, organised by HEFCE, ARMA, etc. Interesting news from these will be posted to the Research Blog. HEFCE are anticipating significant sector-wide engagement with the proposals and have committed to reading all feedback received. It is anticipated that, following the consultation, the initial decisions regarding the shape of REF2021 will be published in summer 2017.

How to Write a 4* Article

Prof. Mark Reed

A fortnight ago Prof Mark Reed, Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation at Newcastle University and the man behind Fast Track Impact, tweeted some thoughts on how to write a 4* paper for the REF. He went on to explain his thinking in more detail in a guest post on the Research Fundementals blog, the post is published here with the authors permission.

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How do you write a 4* paper for the Research Excellence Framework (REF)? It is a question I’ve asked myself with some urgency since the Stern Review shredded my REF submission by not allowing me to bring my papers with me this year to my new position at Newcastle University.

Obviously the answer is going to differ depending on your discipline, but I think there are a few simple things that everyone can do to maximize their chances of getting a top graded research output.

I’m going to start with the assumption that you’ve actually done original, significant and rigorous work – if you haven’t then there is no point in reading any further. However, as I am increasingly asked to pre-review papers for colleagues across a range of disciplines, I am seeing examples of people who write up work as a 2* or 3* paper that has the potential to get a better score. I should point out that I believe that there is an important role for 1* and 2* papers, and that I regularly write these on purpose to address a problem of national significance and frame it for the specific, narrow audience that is likely to be able to benefit most from my work. However, whether I like it or not, as a Professor in a research-intensive University, there is an expectation that I will be submitted as a 4* researcher, which means I need a few 4* papers as well.

You can see some more detailed thoughts on what I think makes 4* for different types of paper in this Tweet:

As you’ll see from the discussion under that tweet though, my more detailed thoughts probably only apply to Units of Assessment across panels A-C, and probably isn’t relevant to the arts and humanities.

Having said this, I think there are a number of things we can all do to maximize the chances of our work being viewed favourably by REF panelists.

  1. Write to the criteria: when I was learning to drive, my instructor told me that in the test I should make sure I moved my head when I was looking in the rear view mirror, to make sure the examiner noticed I was using my mirrors. We’re all used to writing to the criteria of funding calls, and in fact we are all perfectly used to writing papers to the criteria of our target journals. In the last REF, research outputs were judged against three criteria: originality, significance and rigour. Whatever the interpretation of these criteria in your discipline, have you made it explicit to REF panelists reading your work exactly what is original, and why it is so original? Have you explained and effectively justified the significance of your work? And have you included evidence that your methods, analysis and interpretation is rigorous, even if you have to use supplementary material to include extra detail about your methods and data to get around journal word limits?
  1. Get REF feedback before you submit your work for publication: find out who is going to be reviewing research outputs for REF internally within your Unit of Assessment at your institution and ask them to review your work before you submit it. They may be able to make recommendations about how you might improve the paper in light of the REF criteria. Sometimes a little bit of extra work on the framing of your research in relation to wider contexts and issues can help articulate the significance of your work, and with additional reading and thinking, you may be able to position your work more effectively in relation to previous work to demonstrate its originality more clearly. Adding a few extra details to your methods and results may re-assure readers and reviewers that your approach is indeed rigorous. This is not just about doing world-leading research; it is about demonstrating to the world that your work is indeed world-leading. For me, these criteria are nothing new and are worth paying attention to, whether or not we are interested in REF. Meeting these three criteria will increase the chances that you get through peer-review and will increase the likelihood that your work gets cited.
  1. Analyse and discuss good practice in your own area: the only way to really “get your eye in” for REF is to actually look at examples of good and poor practice in your own area. Below, I’ve described how you can design an exercise to do this with your colleagues. You can do it yourself and learn a lot, but from my own experience, you learn a lot more by doing this as a discussion exercise with colleagues who work in your area. If you can, take notes from your discussion and try and distill some of the key lessons, so you can learn collectively as a group and more effectively review and support each others’ work.

How to organize a discussion to work out what makes a 4* paper in your area:

  • Identify top scoring institutions for your Unit of Assessment (UOA): download the REF2014 results, filter for your UOA (columns E or F), then filter so it only shows you the outputs (column J), and then filter for 4* (column L), showing only the institutions from your UOA that had the highest percentage of 4* outputs. Now for those institutions, look across the table (columns L-P) to see which has the highest proportion of outputs at either 3* or 4*. For example, an institution may have 80% of its outputs graded at 4* and 15% graded at 3*, meaning that 95% of its outputs were graded at 3-4*
  • Download a selection of papers from the top scoring institutions: go to your UOA on the REF website, find and click on the institutions you’ve identified in step 1, under “view submission data”, click on “research outputs”, copy and paste output titles into Google Scholar (or your search engine of choice) and download the articles. You may want to select outputs randomly, or you may want to go through more selectively, identifying outputs that are close to the areas your group specialize in
  • Repeat for low scoring institutions so you can compare and contrast high and low scoring outputs
  • Discuss examples: print copies of the high and low scoring outputs, labeled clearly, and in your next UOA meeting, let everyone choose a high and a low-scoring example. Given them 10-15 minutes to quickly read the outputs (focusing on title, abstract, introduction, figures and conclusions so you’re not there all day) and then ask the group (or small groups if there are many of you) to discuss the key factors that they think distinguish between high and low scoring outputs. Get your group(s) to distill the key principles that they think are most useful and disseminate these more widely to the group, so that anyone who wasn’t present can benefit.

It would be great if I could tell you that these are my “three easy ways to get a 4* paper” but doing work that is genuinely original, significant and rigorous is far from easy. If you have done work that is of the highest quality though, I hope that the ideas I’ve suggested here will help you get the credit you deserve for the great research you’ve done.

Have you been involved with an event designed for the external community?

Then we want to hear from you!smiley-face1

The University is currently compiling the data for the annual Higher Education – Business & Community Interaction survey (HE-BCI) due to be submitted to HESA shortly. Data returned is used to calculate our HEIF grant.

We are asked to submit details of social, cultural and community events designed for the external community (to include both free and chargeable events) which took place between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016.

hesa_logo

Event types that should be returned include, but are not limited to:

  • public lectures
  • performance arts (dance, drama, music, etc)
  • exhibitions
  • museum education
  • events for schools and community groups
  • business breakfasts

We cannot return events such as open days, Student Union activity, commercial conferences, etc.

All events that we ran as part of the Festival of Learning, ESRC Festival of Social Science and Cafe Scientifique series are likely to be eligible for inclusion and we will collate this information on your behalf centrally.

If you have been involved with any other event which could be returned, please could you let your contact (see below) know the event name and date, whether it was free or chargeable, the estimated number of attendees, and an estimate of how much academic time was spent preparing for (but not delivering) the event:

  • SciTech – Kelly Deacon-Smith
  • FoM – Rob Hydon
  • HSS – Tanya Richardson
  • FMC – Mark Brocklehurst
  • Professional Service – Fiona Knight (RKEO)

The data returned is used by HEFCE to allocate the HEIF funding so it is important that we return as accurate a picture as possible.

FHSS seminar Prof McKie

linda-mckie-2016Prof. Linda McKie who is professor of Sociology at Durham University gave an excellent paper today in FHSS on Revitalising Spatial and Temporal Frameworks in the Analysis of Unpaid Care and Paid Work.  Her paper highlighted that published data have documented the persistence of the gender pay gap for all women with evidence of a deepening gap following maternity leave. These data generated numerous analyses on segregation and discrimination in education and working life and the many ways in which unpaid care for children, family members and elders remains a dominant factor in everyday gendered inequalities. Often little comment was made on women’s crucial role in reproducing generations many of whom will fund future pensions and services through their taxation. These intergenerational reciprocities are generally ignored in favour of the immediate time considerations for employers, workers and families with the need to generate profit, or income and resources for household or business survival.

In her seminar Prof. McKie revisited the analytical frameworks of ‘caringscapes’ and ‘carescapes’. In earlier work, it was asserted that both offer analytical potential to enhance analyses of the temporal and spatial dynamics of caring and working over the lifecourse in different places. Caring, critical to human flourishing and evident in many aspects of women’s lives, is captured in ‘caringscapes’. The framework of ‘carescapes’ explores the relationship between policies and services as determined by employers, the state and capital. Both frameworks are informed by feminist theorising and spatial and temporal perspectives on identifying and analysing how women perceive, engage with, and reflect on, the demands and pleasures of combining informal caring and paid work. ref-world

Yesterday Prof. McKie led a well-attended workshop for FHSS staff on preparing for the REF.  She offered insight into various REF processes as well advise on strategic planning and the importance of networking.   Prof. McKie has been a sub-panel member of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF) Sub-panel 23: Sociology for the period 2010-2014.

 

Prof.  Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

Seminar, Prof Edwin van Teijlingen, ‘Maternal Mortality in Nepal’, Wed 20th April, Royal London House, R303, 13:00-13:50.

Maternal Mortality in Nepal
Abstract: The session links various social and political factors that affect maternal mortality. Women dying in pregnancy and childbirth is very much a problem of and in low-income countries. This talk focuses on Nepal, one of the poorer countries of the world, to highlight a range of maternal health issues and wider influencing factors including globalisation and the influence of global organisations such as the World Health Organisation.

For further information regarding the Social Science seminar series, get in touch with Dr Mastoureh Fathi (mfathi@boutnemouth.ac.uk).

Update on educational research at BU

ref-logoCELebrate2016 for SI

Following the CEL-ebrate events this week, an update on learning research projects currently in progress across BU, supported by UoA25 REF development funding.

This funding is distributed across BU to researchers working with CEL and CEMP on activities with clear potential for REF outputs in this new unit of assessment for BU.

The funding is supporting research development in three themes, aligned to CEL’s themes – Digital Media Literacies, Practitioner Enquiry and Education Dynamics. We’ve committed £100,000 this year to supporting a wide range of activities, all aligned to the themes and with a clear output plan, including the following –

 

Fair Access Research Writing Retreat / Impact Development Work;

Impact case study developments in CEMP (Research Assistant time) – Football Association (Reflective Coaching) – National FA (Burton) and AFC Bournemouth Youth Academy;  Samsung (Digital Capabilities), United Kingdom Literacy Association (cross-curricular media literacy resources for secondary schools);

Digital Toolkit and Social Media Development;

Resources for ESRC workshop (‘Fused All Ways’) on creative methods for participative social science research with academics and undergraduates;

Third Space Learning and Co-creating design visualisations for enhancing public engagement and impact;

Educational Materials on Policing & Protest – an impact-oriented output of the #RiotID civic media project;

An analysis of the role of gratitude within the student experience;

Quantitative Analysis of User Generated Contents: A Study on Informal Learning and Slum Tourism in South Africa

Society for Research into Higher Education workshop;

Graduated Scenarios research;

Empires of Economy – CEMP research with Matt Locke (Storythings);

Cross- HEI bid writing workshops and pilot study (Nottingham, Surrey, Northumbria);

 

There may be others that we’ve missed off this list – apologies if so, not intended!
The criteria for providing funding are that the activity leads to the development of new educational research at BU with the potential to meet REF criteria for UoA25 and the enhancement of the research environment across CEMP and CEL, which could not be facilitated without this support. The funding supports a range of ‘levels’ of activity – from travelling to initiate new collaborations to growing a network through to the implementation of full projects and support for ‘writing up’ outputs. Projects planned – and activities leading to the development of projects – should be methodologically robust, rigorous in their intentions to generate new knowledge in the field and distinctive by research design. Where possible, priority is given to interdisciplinary / fused approaches and leading to a REF output relevant to UoA25 and, where possible, the intention to generate external funding.

For more information about UoA25 research at BU drop us an email or call in to CEL or CEMP.

Debbie Holley and Julian McDougall | UoA25 Leads

 

Open Access Drop-in Sessions

Thinking about the next REF?

On 11th, 12th and 13th of April, RKEO will team up with the Library to provide Open Access Drop-in sessions. Please do pop in to get some hands on support and advice on making your research open access to comply with the HEFCE post-REF2014 Open Access Policy.

Monday, 11th April – 12.30pm to 1.30pm – S117, Studland House

Tuesday, 12th April – 12.30pm to 1.30pm – S117, Studland House

Wednesday, 13th April – 12.30pm to 1.30pm – S117, Studland House

Thinking about the next REF?

153px-Open_Access_logo_PLoS.svgHEFCE’s policy for open access states that all new peer-reviewed journal articles and papers from published conference proceedings (with ISSN) should be deposited in our institutional repository BURO (through BRIAN), in full text form. Full compliance with this policy is now crucial, as HEFCE’s requirements for the next REF include the condition that outputs can only be submitted to the REF if they are published as open access at the point of acceptance.

All researchers need to follow these three steps, to ensure that all your articles can be considered for the next REF.

1. Keep your Authors’ Accepted Manuscript1

  • Keep this version for journal articles and conference proceedings (with an ISSN).  This is not necessary for books, chapters or other output types.
  • This is necessary even if the publisher will make the article Open Access on publication.
  • Whether you are the sole author, a co-author, a postgraduate or a professor, you need to keep this version of your paper.

 

2. Upload the Authors’ Accepted Manuscript to BRIAN as soon as it is accepted for publication2

  • When your publisher sends you an acceptance notification, log into BRIAN to add the basic publication details and upload the document.
  • The Library will ensure compliance with any embargo date.
  • You are now compliant!

 

3. Contact the BRIAN or BURO team for help or advice

All researchers must follow this for their work to be considered for the REF, in line with the HEFCE’s policy for open access. A comprehensive list of FAQs on the policy is available.

RKEO and the Library will be available to provide relevant support during these drop-in sessions:

11 April – 12.30pm to 1.30pm – S117, Studland House

12 April – 12.30pm to 1.30pm – S117, Studland House

13 April – 12.30pm to 1.30pm – S117, Studland House

No booking is necessary, just turn up!

1 Authors’ Accepted Manuscript – this is the final peer-reviewed manuscript, before the proof reading starts for the published version.  It is often a Word document, publisher template, LaTeX file or PDF.

2 This is when the publisher confirms to you that your article has been accepted.

(Post adapted from University of Bath, Library resources)

CEMP News

cemp_big_021c-BU ORANGE

A crop of CEMP news all in one post …

Here’s the March 2016 CEMP newsletter

Here’s the call for abstracts for our 2016 Media Education Summit, to be held in Rome.

And here’s the March 2016 CEMP / CEL funding bulletin. CEMP CEL bulletin March 16

Thanks to Marcellus Mbah and Richard Berger for putting this one together.

As always, to find out more about CEMP research or to follow up one of the ‘leads’ in the bulletin, please contact Richard Berger or Julian McDougall.

For more information about BU research for REF UoA25 (education) co-led by CEMP and CEL contact Julian McDougall (MC faculty) or Debbie Holley (non MC / cross BU).