Tagged / ref

Southern Universities REF event at BU – 22 February 2012 – book your place NOW!

REF logo
BU is hosting a 1/2 day REF event on Wednesday 22 February 2012. All staff are invited to attend.
 
The final panel working methods and criteria documents are due to be published in January 2012. This event will provide an update on the current developments with the REF and the confirmed REF panel documentation, focusing specifically on the assessment of impact within each of the four Main Panels.
 
Each of the REF Main Panels will be represented. If you have any questions about the REF, how research will be assessed and graded, or how impact will be assessed then you should attend this event! 😀
 
The event is open to BU staff and external delegates. There are already 130 delegates registered to attend, representing 32 different universities.

The event is free to attend but booking is essential.

For further information (including the programme) and to register, visit HERE.

Latest developments with the REF now available from the REF Highlight Report #11

REF logoThe latest REF Highlight Report is now available from the Research Blog.

Key points include updates on:

  • progress towards the Winter 2011 REF preparation exercise
  • funding identified for case study development
  • update of the draft BU REF code of practice
  • latest documents released from the REF team at HEFCE (including an updated external timetable and a set of FAQs)

You can access the full document from the I-drive in the following folder: CRKT\Public\RDU\REF\REF preparations\REF highlight reports\#11

REF Highlight Report #10

REF logoThe latest REF Highlight Report is now available from the Research Blog.

Key points include updates on:

  • progress towards the Winter 2011 REF preparation exercise
  • publication of the final REF guidance on submissions in July 2011
  • the consultation on the panel working methods and criteria
  • the appointment of Sally Gates as the REF Communications Manager
  • the RASG and RALT meetings held between May and October

You can access the full document from the I-drive via this link: REF Highlight Report #10

If you are accessing the report from off-campus then you will need to locate the following folder on the I-drive: CRKT\Public\RDU\REF\REF preparations\REF highlight reports\#10

Southern Universities REF event at BU – 22 February 2012 – book your place NOW!

BU will be hosting a half day Research Excellence Framework (REF) event, supported by the REF team, on 22 February 2012 to which all staff are invited to attend.

Book your place now by completing the online registration form 

This event follows hot on the heels of the first REF event held at BU on 19 May 2011, to which over 150 delegates from 39 institutions attended (see our previous blog post – The excellent REF event at BU!).

The sector-wide consultation on the proposed REF panel criteria closed earlier this month and the final documents are due to be published in January 2012. This event will provide an update on the current developments with the REF and the confirmed REF panel documentation, focusing specifically on the assessment of impact within each of the four Main Panels.

The event will be open to BU staff and external delegates and the provisional programme is shown below.

Time Activity
09:30 – 10:00 Coffee and registration
10:00 – 10:30  REF Team overview of the assessment framework
Chris Taylor, Deputy REF Project Manager, REF Team
10:30 – 11:00 Similarities between the four Main Panel working methods and criteria
Professor Stephen Holgate, Chair of Main Panel A
11:00 – 11:30 Morning break
11:30 – 12:15 Panel specifics, differences and impact assessment
There will be concurrent sessions, one for each of the four Main Panels. Attendees choose which one to attend.

  • Main Panel A:   Professor Stephen Holgate, Chair of Main Panel A
  • Main Panel B:   Professor Philip Nelson, Chair of sub-panel 15 (General Engineering)
  • Main Panel C:   Professor John Scott, Chair of sub-panel 23 (Sociology)
  • Main Panel D:   Professor Bruce Brown, Chair of Main Panel D
12:15 – 13:00 Panel Q&A session with all participants
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch, networking and close

The event is free to attend but booking is essential.

Book your place now by completing the online registration form 

REF week on the Blog! REF Frequently Asked Questions

This week is REF Week on the Blog! Each day we will be explaining a different element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as a quick reference guide to help you prepare for the forthcoming REF exercise – REF2014.

Today’s post covers the frequently asked questions Matthew, Anita and I are asked about the REF.

If you have a question which isn’t covered in this list, add it as a comment or email it to me and I will add it to the FAQs!

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceI need an extra publication and all the normal journals I submit to have very long waiting lists. What can I do? – You could consider open access publishing as a route to getting your work published and in the public domain. Open access publishing typically has much shorted publication times, often only 2-3 months between submission and publication. Open access journals are eligible output types for the REF and are usually peer-reviewed to the same level of quality and scrutiny as traditional subscription journals. Open access publishing also has the addition benefit of sharing your research with the whole world, rather than only those who have access via paid subscriptions. This increases the visability and potentially the impact of your research. BU has a dedicated central budget to support open access publishing – read more here – Launch of the BU Open Access Publication Fund.

How can I increase the visibility of my published work and maybe increase the number of citations? – As above, one of the best ways of increasing the visibility of your work is to make it freely available, either by publishing in open access outlets or adding a full-text copy of your publication to our institutional repository, BURO. You can use the Sherpa RoMEO database to check whether your publisher supports open access archiving in repositories – the majority of them do! Don’t worry too much about the copyright as this will be checked for your by the BURO team prior to your output being added to the live repository. You can also blog about your research findings and outputs on this Research Blog! The blog is visable externally and well optimised to be picked up by search engines, such as Google. We always want to hear about the excellent research you’re doing, and anyone at BU can have access to add their own posts. Just email Susan Dowdle and she’ll get you blogging in no time 🙂

I need to win some research grant funding to strengthen our REF submission. How can I increase my chances? – My main advice here would be to choose your potential funder wisely; research proposals take considerable time and effort to put together and there is little point spending your time writing a proposal which a funder is unlikely to fund, e.g. if your research idea doesn’t fit the funder’s strategic aims. Make use of our internal peer review scheme, the RPRS, to ensure your research proposal is submitted to the most appropriate funder and to strengthen and add value to your proposal prior to submission. We can also advise you of which funders have shorter turnaround times so you can get started quickly and bring in some funding during the REF period.

I am unlikely to have four outputs to submit to the REF. Can I still be entered? – Possibly. The REF team acknowledge there are a number of reasons as to why a researcher may not be able to produce four outputs during the REF period. Clearly defined circumstances include qualifying as an early career researcher, part-time working, maternity, paternity or adoption leave, and secondments or career breaks outside of the HE sector. The REF team also recognise that there are a number complex circumstances which may result in a researcher not being able to produce four outputs – these include disability, ill-health or injury, mental health conditions, constraints relating to pregnancy o maternity, childcare or other caring responsibilities, gender reassignment, etc. Further details on how BU will be dealing with circumstances such as these will be released in the BU REF Code of Practice. In the meantime if you would like to discuss your personal circumstances with someone, you should contact your REF UOA Leader, Anita Somner or myself, or Judith Wilson in HR. All queries will be dealt with on a confidential basis.

I work at the University on a part-time basis. Can I still be submitted to the REF? – As above, the REF recognises part-time working as a clearly defined circumstance which can result in a researcher being unable to produce four outputs during the REF assessment period. It is likely this will be dealt with on a pro-rata basis, e.g. a researcher who has been on a 0.5 FTE contract throughout the REF period is likely to be required to submit 2 outputs. Further details will be included in the BU REF Code of Practice.

I’m not sure which of my outputs to submit to the REF. Will there be an opportunity for them to be reviewed externally before the submission? – Yes! We will be holding at least two more mock exercises reviewing outputs, one in spring 2012 and the other in spring 2013. Further details will be communicated via the blog in due course.

Remember – if you have a question which isn’t covered in this list, please add it as a comment or email it to me and I will add it to the FAQs!

Check out the posts appearing on the Blog every day this week as part of REF Week!

REF week on the Blog! Mock exercises prior to submission

This week is REF Week on the Blog! Each day we will be explaining a different element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as a quick reference guide to help you prepare for the forthcoming REF exercise – REF2014.

BU will undertake a series of mock exercises as part of the internal preparations for the REF

The Light-Touch Review – BU’s first REF preparation exercise was the Light-Touch Review which took place during autumn/winter 2010-11. All academic staff were invited to submit up to four outputs (published since 1 January 2008) and an impact summary to a panel of external expert reviewers. In addition, REF UOA Leaders provided the external reviewers with a summary of the unit of assessment (UOA) as a whole.

This first exercise was considered to be a ‘light touch’ review as the external reviewers were not asked to look in detail at each output but to provide general comments about an individual’s research profile and an overview assessment of the UOA as a whole.

Mini-mock for two UOAs – in spring/summer 2011 BU undertook an external review exercise for two UOAs to help further define and shape the submissions, especially around the notion of disciplinary fit.

Winter mock 2011 – the preparation for the winter mock exercise is currently taking place. This will not be a mock exercise of outputs but of narratives. The UOA Leaders are currently drafting impact case studies, impact statements and environment statements which will be submitted to a panel of external expert reviewers in early December.

Future mock exercises – we are planning to hold a second outputs mock (open to all eligible staff) in spring/summer 2012, and a final mock exercise in spring/summer 2013 focusing on all assessment elements (outputs, impact and environment).

Details of all upcoming mock exercises will be made available via the Blog in due course.

You can access the latest presentation about the REF, written by the REF team, here: REF slide pack Sep 2011

Check out the posts appearing on the Blog every day this week as part of REF Week!

REF week on the blog! A Ramble about REF

It’s REF week on the Research Blog and I also have to give a talk to the BU Board on Thursday about progress with our REF preparations, but I am sitting here wondering what to write?  Does this often happen to you?  I often put these things off and turn my hand to something else, like the paper I am currently struggling to complete, or keeping up with my email correspondence rather than tackle the task in hand.  But you see, here am I avoiding starting on the piece again, so I had better get started before it gets any later.

For the Board presentation I am taking a historical view of REF and its ancestors.  It started out in 1985 as the Research Selectivity Exercise, before progressing in its third iteration to the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 1992 which was the first time research funds (QR – Quality Research Income) was distributed as a consequence of the outcome.  In some ways it was only in 1997 that universities had really got their act together and begun to take the RAE seriously, and by 2001 it was a major focus of energy in higher education and was beginning to result in a progressive concentration of research funding in a few key institutions.  BU’s greatest success to date was in 2008 when we were the fourth most improved university in the country, and for the first time BU started to receive significant QR income as a result. 

Apart from dominating the lives of many researchers, you may well ask what it has done for UK research.  Well, the answer is actually a huge ton!  In the 1970s, research in UK universities was funded via a government block grant and the UK was a middle-ranking research power, complacent, inefficient and underperforming.  According to the recent BIS survey with the catchy title International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base – 2011 the UK is now a leading research nation in the world, second only to the US.  The much quoted headlines run something like: 1% of the world’s population, 3% of R&D spend, 4% of researchers, but 6% of articles, 10% of citations, 14% of the most cited articles.  According to HEFCE, for every pound spent on research in the UK you get between four and seven pounds back.  When seen in this context, the RAE has done its job extremely well by introducing competition into the sector.  There are parallels here with the current move to introduce competition around student numbers.

Since RAE2008, goal posts have changed again as the name has changed to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) with the introduction of ‘Impact’ as an element of the assessment.  In 2014, it will contribute 20% of the overall profile that a Unit of Assessment (UOA) will receive.  At its simplest, impact is about justifying research spending from the public purse by demonstrating the societal benefit – economic, environmental, social, or cultural – from research.  It is a great concept and speaks to the heart of societal relevance which we are placing at the centre of BU’s future research strategy.  It will be assessed as part of REF via a series of case studies and each case study has to be based on a piece or body of research undertaken in the last 15 years, with an evidenced impact since 2008.  The basic idea is that impact often takes time to come to fruition, but for a youthful institution like our own this is challenging since the research belongs to the university where it was done, not to the researcher. In the last 5 years there has been a steady influx of talented researchers to BU, but in many cases their impact belongs to another university!  

The need to evidence societal benefit is also important – it’s not enough just to have changed government policy for example; one needs to demonstrate the benefit of that change to ordinary people.  The example we often use is that of seatbelts.  Professor X does some research into seat belts and convinces government to legislate with respect to their introduction.  This only counts, however, as interim impact – to complete the case study, one would have to demonstrate how that legislation has reduced road traffic accidents.  So evidencing one’s claim is critical.  I have used this example on several occasions but was somewhat challenged when an individual in the audience pointed out that this could also be construed in a negative way since seatbelts have reduced the number of organ donors!  You will no doubt be able to guess at this point that I was talking to staff in HSC at the time. 

The point is that it is all about the narrative you build from a piece of research and how you evidence that claim.  There are some challenges for us around the issue of impact, but it also offers great opportunity.  So I think it is time for me to finish here and go back to working on my Board presentation.

REF week on the Blog! BU REF preparation and governance

This week is REF Week on the Blog! Each day we will be explaining a different element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as a quick reference guide to help you prepare for the forthcoming REF exercise – REF2014.

Internal preparations for the BU submission to the REF have already started and you can keep up to date by reading the BU REF Highlight Reports. These are published regularly and detail all of the recent developments (internal and external) with the REF (see the link to the I-drive at the end of the post).

Two internal groups have been established to oversee preparations for the REF:

RASG – The REF Academic Steering Group (RASG) has been established as the primary decision-making body for the BU REF preparations. It first met on 14 June 2010 and normally meets on a monthly basis. The RASG Terms of Reference (including a list of members) can be accessed via the I-drive.

RALT – The REF Academic Leadership Team (RALT). RALT met for the first time on 27 September 2010 and will meet when required (currently this is on a monthly basis). Members of RALT include all of the RASG members plus the REF UOA Leaders. The list of REF UOA Leaders and the RALT Terms of Reference can be access on the I-drive.

BU is currently working on a REF Code of Practice and some FAQs around REF preparation, staff eligibility, staff selection, etc., which will be available from the BU Research Blog in due course.

The Research Development Unit (RDU) are managing and administering the internal REF process. If you have any questions then please do ask Anita Somner or Julie Northam.

You can access all of this information regarding the BU preparations for the REF via the I-drive: I:\CRKT\Public\RDU\REF

You can access the latest presentation about the REF, written by the REF team, here: REF slide pack Sep 2011

Check out the posts appearing on the Blog every day next week as part of REF Week!

REF week on the Blog! What were the HEFCE REF pilots?

This week is REF Week on the Blog! Each day we will be explaining a different element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as a quick reference guide to help you prepare for the forthcoming REF exercise – REF2014.

What were the HEFCE REF pilots? – HEFCE ran two pilot exercises with HEIs in the sector during the development of the REF. The first exercise was a bibliometrics pilot, and the second was an impact pilot.

Bibliometrics pilot – HEFCE ran a pilot exercise in the construction of bibliometric indicators of research quality in 2008-09, using Scopus and the Web of Scienceas the test databases. BU was chosen as one of 22 institutions to be part of phase one of the pilot exercise. This involved the provision of publication details to HEFCE, and cross-checking BU information on Web of Science and Scopus. Where possible this was completed using BU’s institutional repository, BURO. The outcome of the bibliometrics pilot was that bibliometric indicators are not yet sufficiently robust enough in all disciplines to be used formulaically or as a primary indicator of research quality. However HEFCE agreed that there was scope for bibliometrics to inform the process of expert review in some units of assessment. These findings resulted in the decision that some UOA sub-panels will receive citation data (the number of times an output has been cited, calculate via Scopus) as additional information about the academic significance of the outputs.

Impact pilot – During 2009-10, HEFCE ran a second pilot exercise, this time with the aim of developing proposals for how to assess research impact in the REF. The impact pilot involved 29 HEIs submitting evidence of impact (case studies and statements) which were assessed by pilot expert panels in five units of assessment:

  • Clinical Medicine
  • Physics
  • Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
  • Social Work and Social Policy & Administration
  • English Language and Literature

The impact pilot completed in autumn 2010 and the final report (including recommendations and findings) was published on 11 November 2010. The full report can be accessed on the HEFCE website. For a brief summary of the report, please download the Impact Pilot Summary. You can also read our REF Impact FAQs.

You can access the latest presentation about the REF, written by the REF team, here: REF slide pack Sep 2011

Check out the posts appearing on the Blog every day this week as part of REF Week!

REF week on the Blog! Introduction to the Research Excellence Framework

Next week is REF Week on the Blog! Each day we will be explaining a different element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as a quick reference guide to help you prepare for the forthcoming REF exercise – REF2014.

What is the REF? – The Research Excellence Framework (REF) has replaced the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) as the new process for assessing the volume and quality of research in UK HEIs. As with the RAE, the results of the REF will determine the annual quality-related research (QR) grant distributed from HEFCE to HEIs in England.

The REF will assess research excellence through a process of expert review, informed by indicators where appropriate. It will be based on HEIs submitting evidence of their research activity and outcomes, to be assessed by expert panels.

The REF will focus on assessing three elements, which together reflect the key characteristics of research excellence (weightings for REF2014 in brackets):

  • The quality of research outputs (65%)
  • The reach and significance of the impact of research (20%)
  • The vitality of the research environment (15%)

Each of these elements will be assessed against appropriate criteria for excellence, and rated by expert panels on a five-point scale ranging from 4* (excellent, world-leading) to Unclassified.

The REF assessment period started on 1st January 2008 and the first REF submission will take place in Autumn 2013, with the results published in December 2014.

You can access the latest presentation about the REF, written by the REF team, here: REF slide pack Sep 2011

Check out the posts appearing on the Blog every day next week as part of REF Week!

Bibliometrics need not be baffling!

What are bibliometrics?

Bibliometrics are a set of methods used to study or measure text and information. Citation analysis and content analysis are the most commonly used bibliometric methods. Bibliometric methods can help you explore the academic impact of a field, a set of researchers or a particular journal paper.

What is citation analysis?

Citation analysis looks at where a document has been referenced by others since it was originally published – this information can be used when searching for materials and in analysing their merit. Undertaking citation analysis on yourself is useful for assessing your own research performance. Specialist databases such as Web of Science and Scopus provide various tools for doing this analysis.

Searching for citation information on the Web of ScienceSM

Web of ScienceSM is hosted by Thomson Reuters and consists of various databases containing information gathered from thousands of scholarly journals, books, book series, reports, conference proceedings, and more:

  • Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-Expanded)
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI)
  • Index Chemicus (IC)
  • Current Chemical Reactions (CCR-Expanded)
  • Book Citations Index – coming soon!

These databases enable you to perform a variety of tasks, such as search published literature, undertake citation analysis, track new research within a particular field, and identify chemical compounds and reactions. Data is available from around 1990, and even earlier in some cases.

By producing a Web of ScienceSM Citation Report for yourself (or for others), you can find out who is citing your work and how it is being used in other people’s publications so that you can get a feel for the overall citation activity around your outputs. Search for an author’s name and then click on ‘Create Citation Report’ from the results page.

Producing this report will give you information such as the number of items published in each year, the number of citations to those items for each year, the average number of citations per item, and your h-index based on this information. Click here for web tutorials on how to use the Web of ScienceSM.

Searching for citation information on Scopus

Scopus, part of Elsevier’s SciVerse facility, was launched in November 2004 and is an abstract and citation database containing around 19,500 titles from more than 5,000 publishers. Scopus enables researchers to track, analyse and visualise research, and has broad coverage of the scientific, technical, medical and social sciences fields and, more recently, the arts and humanities. Data is currently largely available from 1996 but it does go back further than this in some cases. For more information about Scopus, click here.

By searching for yourself (or others) on the Scopus database using the author search facility, you can use the ‘View Citation Overview’ function to get a feel for the citations activity around your outputs. The information is presented and can be analysed in a number of ways, including pie charts, graphs and tables, and shows the breakdown of citation activity over a number of years and your h-index based on this data. Various tutorials on using Scopus can be accessed here.

Scopus and the Research Excellence Framework (REF): HEFCE has announced that Elsevier have been chosen as the provider of citation data services to the REF sub-panels that have chosen to make use of citation information as part of the assessment process. Using the Scopus database, HEFCE will provide the relevant sub-panels with raw citation data (i.e. not normalised) accompanied by contextual information, which will assist those panel members in making decisions about the outputs part of the REF submissions.

What is the h-index?

The h-index was conceived by Professor Jorge Hirsch in 2005 within the field of physics and is fast becoming one of the most widely used metrics for research evaluation. It is also becoming increasingly used as a measure of research activity and academic prominence across various subject areas.

The benefit of the h-index over other citation measures is that it is not influenced by a few highly cited papers and it ignores any papers that remain uncited. It is calculated based on the number of papers by a particular author that receive h or more citations. Therefore, an h-index of 15 means that a person has at least 15 papers that have been cited 15 times or more. Fortunately, the Web of Science and Scopus both automatically calculate the h-index as part of their citation analysis functions so there is no need to work it out manually.

If you’d like to know more about the h-index, the original research document can be accessed from the Cornell University Library webpage.

What are journal impact factors?

Journal Impact Factors are published annually on the Web of Knowledge and provide a way of ranking journals based on the citation performance of articles published by those journals from the previous two years. For more information about how impact factors are calculated and how they can be used, see my previous blog post.

Other methods of ranking journals also exist, such as the ABS Academic Journal Quality Guide and the ERA journal ranking list. Journal rankings can be useful when choosing which journal to publish in, for example.

Exploring research impact

Why do I need to think about the impact of my research?

Given the current economic situation, tighter spending reviews and increasing constraints on public spending, there is more of a need than ever to demonstrate the economic, social and cultural benefits of publicly funded research to wider society. This broad definition of research impact is gradually being adopted and used in a number of ways by various funding bodies that need to be accountable for the money they distribute, such as the Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and some charities and trusts.

Consequently, there is now greater impetus to involve researchers more directly in demonstrating the impact of their research. Researchers therefore need to actively think about how to demonstrate the value of their research and its wider impact, from the application stage through to project completion, dissemination and beyond.

This impact pathway is a fluid process and research impacts can occur at any stage in the research life cycle – often they can stem from unexpected or unintended outcomes as well as from planned activity. The key is to start thinking about potential beneficiaries and pathways to impact during the project planning stage and to continue to monitor the outcomes in an ongoing way. This will help you to make new connections and partnerships beyond the project itself, and to put in place resources and activities that enable you to make the most of opportunities for achieving impact when they arise. Keeping a record of activity related to a project, and gathering evidence to support impacts and outcomes achieved, is recommended to enable you to effectively fulfil any current and future reporting requirements.

What are funders looking for in terms of impact?

Many funding bodies, particularly larger ones such as RCUK, have a section on their funding application form that specifically asks you to consider the potential pathways to impact as appropriate for the nature of the research you’re proposing to conduct. This is to enable funders to support you in undertaking these activities – you’re not being asked to predict the actual outcomes that the research will achieve.

Each funder understands that there is great diversity in the kinds of impact that are possible; they also acknowledge that this diversity is a great strength of the research community in addressing such things as urgent social issues, remaining competitive in global markets and improving quality of life. It is about embracing the ways in which research-related knowledge and skills benefit individuals, organisations and nations.
In thinking about potential impacts, you might find it useful to consider the potential beneficiaries of the research – innovative and creative approaches to engaging beneficiaries and fostering impact are generally strongly encouraged by the funders. For more specific information about completing the impact sections on the RCUK application forms and for an indication of the potential range of impacts that can be generated from research, visit the RCUK impact web-pages.

Furthermore, the RCUK has just launched the Research Outcomes Project, which requires all RCUK grant holders to upload information about the various outcomes that have resulted from each of the RCUK-funded projects they are responsible for, and one of those categories is impact.

What is HEFCE looking for in terms of research impact for the Research Excellence Framework (REF)?

As part of submitting to the REF, HEFCE requires higher education institutions to provide evidence of research impact that has been realised within the assessment period but which stems from research undertaken at that institution within a number of years prior to the assessment period. Therefore, rather than looking forward to the kinds of impact that might stem from a research project, HEFCE is asking for information about impacts that are being, or have already been, achieved within a set timeframe. More information about how HEFCE is approaching impact in the REF is available from the HEFCE REF web-pages.

Need to publish a paper quickly for the REF?

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceThen come to our free Open Access event this Wednesday in the EBC!

Publishing via an open access route often results in much faster publication times, meaning your research is out in the public domain much more quickly than traditional subscription journal routes.

BU fully supports open access publishing and has recently launched a central Open Access Publication Fund to enable academic staff to access funds to easily publish via open access outlets.

We’re holding an open access publishing event this Wednesday between 10am-12:30pm in the EBC (7th floor).

You can access the programme here: BU Open Access event programme

It is free for BU staff and students to attend. Refreshments and lunch will be provided.

To reserve a place at the event please contact Anita Somner by email.

We look forward to seeing you there! 😀

Southern Universities REF event at BU – 22 February 2012 – SAVE THE DATE!

REF logoBU will be hosting a half day Research Excellence Framework (REF) event for southern universities, supported by the REF Team, on 22 February 2012 to which all staff are invited to attend.

This event follows hot on the heels of the first REF Team-supported event held at BU on 19 May 2011, to which over 150 delegates from 39 institutions attended (see our previous blog post – The excellent HEFCE REF event at BU!).

The sector-wide consultation on the proposed REF panel criteria closed earlier this month and the final documents are due to be published in January 2012. This event will provide an update on the current developments with the REF and the confirmed REF panel documentation, focusing specifically on the assessment of impact within each of the four Main Panels.

The event will be open to BU staff and external delegates and the provisional programme is shown below.

Provisional programme:

09:30 – 10:00    Coffee and registration

10:00 – 10:30    REF Team overview of the assessment framework

Chris Taylor, Deputy REF Project Manager, REF Team

10:30 – 11:00    Similarities between the 4 Main Panel criteria

Professor Stephen Holgate, Chair of Main Panel A

11:00 – 11:30    Morning break

11:30 – 12:15    Panel specifics, differences and impact assessment

There will be concurrent sessions, one for each of the four Main Panels. Attendees choose which one to attend.

Main Panel A:    Professor Stephen Holgate, Chair of Main Panel A

Main Panel B:    Professor Philip Nelson, Chair of sub-panel 15 (General Engineering)

Main Panel C:    Professor John Scott, Chair of sub-panel 23 (Sociology)

Main Panel D:    Professor Bruce Brown, Chair of Main Panel D

12:15 – 13:00    Panel Q&A session with all participants

13:00 – 14:00   Lunch, networking and close

 

The event is free to attend but booking is essential. Booking will open very soon – further details to follow!
 

Tourism comes of age…

Although a major contributor to life at BU, the study of Tourism is often wrongly maligned as being a niche subject on the periphery of more established areas of study such as Business & Management and Geography. Well, in the UK alone over 100 institutions offer HE courses at undergraduate level including “top tier” universities such as Exeter, Surrey, Strathclyde and Stirling with many more competing for students and staff across Europe and beyond with major concentrations of activity in North America, the Middle East, South East Asia and Australia and New Zealand where tourism is not only a significant area of academic interest but also of valuable income, foreign exchange earnings and employment.

Returning to the UK one of the most significant “coming of age” moments has been the explicit inclusion of Tourism for the very first time in a Unit of Assessment in the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework. Unit 26, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism is one of only a few new units in the REF, a fact which clearly reflects its growing maturity as an area of academic investigation and the widespread positive recognition with which it is now held across the sector. This recognition really took hold 2 to 3 years ago when the ESRC awarded colleagues at the University of Exeter £1.5 million to set up its research cluster in Sport, Leisure and Tourism, an award which would have been unthinkable only a few years before. Since then, staff from the School of Tourism at BU have been attracting funds from the ESRC, the European Union and the United Nations World Tourism Organization and others while the significant award recently won by colleagues from the School from the EPSRC on sustainable patterns of travel demonstrates the collaborative and inter-disciplinary opportunities offered by Tourism. This latter point was again highlighted recently with the inclusion in the RCUK publication Big Ideas for the Future of a project looking at the fusion between public health and tourism policies at the local level. This was BU’s only entry in this prestigious publication, testament if it were ever needed that the industry that is widely acclaimed as the world’s largest has now also come of age in the academic arena!

REF update from the VC and PVC

In the latest Vice-Chancellor’s email, Prof John Vinney gave an update on the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and BU’s preparations for the exercise. The email also introduced this month’s VC video in which he and Prof Matthew Bennett discuss the REF in more detail – and what it means for BU – with Sue Eccles from the Media School.

You can watch the video here:

httpv://youtu.be/7s8RTlOOPnU.

BU REF preparations – next mock exercise underway

Hot on the heels of our REF light-touch review of outputs last winter, our subsequent mini-mock exercise in two UOAs, and the release of the final REF Guidance on Submissions and draft panel criteria documentation, BU’s next mock REF exercise is now underway.

The BU winter 2011 mock will concentrate solely on the impact and environment elements of the submissions (i.e. individual outputs will not be reviewed). During the autumn term BU Unit of Assessment (UOA) Leaders have been asked to produce 2-3 impact case studies, an impact statement and an environment statement for each UOA. These will be sent to the external reviewers (at least 2 per UOA) in early December, and feedback will be shared with the UOA Leaders in February 2012.

The next review of outputs is planned for spring 2012.

These mock exercises are intended to shape and craft our submissions to REF2014 to ensure we put forward the strongest submissions possible.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding our internal preparations for the REF then send me an email 🙂