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Section III: Panelsí Criteria and Working Methods

3.40 Celtic Studies, UoA 49

UoA Descriptor

3.40.1 The Panel regards its field of coverage as the Celtic languages, including Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Cornish, Manx and Continental Celtic, in all periods, and the literatures and non-material cultures of their speakers.

UoA Boundaries

3.40.2 Panel members have a broad range of expertise within Celtic Studies. However, the Panel will refer submissions to relevant panels and/or seek expert opinion where it considers this is appropriate in order to supplement its own expertise, including where a submission spans boundaries with other units of assessment.

3.40.3 The Panel will not establish any sub-panels.

3.40.4 It is not possible for the Panel to specify in advance of the receipt of submissions subjects on which it may need to seek advice, though these are expected to fall within the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Interdisciplinary Research

3.40.5 The Panel acknowledges the potential for interdisciplinary research within Celtic Studies and between Celtic Studies and other fields. Its criteria and working methods for assessing the evidence submitted, including seeking the advice of other relevant panels and/or expert opinion where appropriate, are such as to ensure equitable treatment of interdisciplinary research.

Joint Submissions

3.40.6 The Panel will treat joint submissions as a single entity and apply the same criteria and working methods to the assessment of joint submissions as to single submissions.

Treatment of Evidence

3.40.7 The Panel will base its assessment of submissions primarily on its professionally informed judgement of the quality of the research output cited. It will set its judgement within the context of its assessment of all the evidence presented in the submission on the nature and quality of research activity and culture, as specified in the criteria and working methods which follow. It will look to RA5 and RA6 to provide significant evidence of the research environment.

3.40.8 The Panel will allow for the diversity of patterns of research activity which occur within higher education institutions.

Research Output (RA2)

3.40.9 When assessing the quality of submissions, the Panel will apply the same criteria to all research works, regardless of the form of output. The following criteria will be used as appropriate:

  1. Originality: the work represents an intellectual advance or a significant contribution to knowledge
  2. Intellectual (and where appropriate, methodological) rigour and coherence; analytical insight
  3. Imaginative scope; importance of issues addressed; extent of implications for other researchers
  4. Accuracy and depth of scholarship; evidence of familiarity with other work in the field.

3.40.10 The principal categories within which it is envisaged that works will be cited are listed below. No ranking or weighting should be inferred from the order in which they are listed.

  1. Academic journal articles (including review articles).
  2. Note: While acknowledging the value of the refereeing process in assisting assessment, the Panel recognises that some research is published in journals which do not use refereeing procedures.

  3. Books, including:
  4. i. single authored or co-authored works

    ii. scholarly editions

    iii. edited collections of essays with substantial research input on the part of the editor.

  5. Chapters in books and other short works, including:

i. essays in thematic or similar collections

ii. contributions to conference proceedings

iii. contributions to Festschriften

iv. other short works, for example, published lectures, pamphlets, dictionary entries, encyclopaedia articles

v. working papers.

3.40.11 The Panel recognises that assessable output may appear in other media, including electronic media and recorded performance, and it will deal with such work as appropriate within its criteria and working methods.

3.40.12 The Panel recognises higher education pedagogic research as a valid and valued form of research activity within Celtic Studies and will accord it equitable treatment within its criteria and working methods.

3.40.13 The Panel recognises the importance of the following areas of activity to the disciplines contained within or contributing to Celtic Studies. It will assess cited outputs in these to the extent that they embody research as specified in the published definition of research for the RAE and by reference to the criteria given in paragraph 3.40.9 above.

  1. Bibliographical work
  2. Creative writing
  3. Editorial work - The Panel would expect editorship of journals and similar activity to be mentioned in RA6 as a contribution to the national research culture and/or as indicators of peer respect. However, the Panel also recognises that editorship can involve a significant personal research input on the part of the editor. Where this is demonstrably the case, such activity may properly be cited as output in RA2.
  4. Teaching materials
  5. Translation

Research content of cited output

3.40.14 Institutions may identify the research content of outputs such as bibliography, creative writing, editorial work, teaching materials and translation, where this may not be obvious by providing a succinct statement in the 'Other relevant details' field on RA2. In the case of collaborative research, including co-authored and co-edited work, the nature and extent of an individual's contribution may be noted in this field.

3.40.15 Institutions should be aware of the following:

  1. While a submission may include researchers whose work is assessed as of a high quality, this may be offset by the number of researchers included whose work is assessed to be of a significantly lower quality, leading to a lower rating than might otherwise have been the case.
  2. Where less than four items are cited, the Panel will use its judgement and knowledge of normal practice and expectations in its subject area. Where the output of a cited member of research active staff is lower than might be expected in normal circumstances, the submission should indicate the reasons for this in RA6.
  3. In the case of material published before 1 January 1994 that is re-issued in a revised edition, or in a collection of the author's papers, or which has been translated into another language, the Panel will consider this work only to the extent that it contains new research or new or substantially improved insights.

3.40.16 The full name of the author under which each item of cited work has been published should be included in 'Other relevant details' field on RA2. This is to assist Panel members in tracing items, particularly where works are published under a different name (for example, a bardic name), or where different authors have the same initials and surnames.

Research Students, Studentships and External Income (RA3 & RA4)

3.40.17 The Panel will consider the data provided in RA3a, RA3b and RA4 against the profile of research active staff submitted during the census period as an indication of research activity and overall research culture. In making its assessment, it will also set the data in the context of further information which it is asking institutions to provide in RA6.

Textual Commentary

Research Plans and General Observations (RA5 and RA6)

3.40.18 The Panel will look for evidence of a research culture and strategy, drawing on the evidence of the submission as a whole. In making its assessment, it will look to RA5 and RA6 to provide significant evidence of the research environment. Submissions should therefore ensure that they cover, as appropriate, the areas listed below.

3.40.19 The Panel will take a positive view of the encouragement and development of younger or new researchers. Submissions should provide the Panel, at appropriate points within RA5 and RA6, with sufficient evidence to make a judgement on the nature and quality of the contribution which such researchers are making to research activity and culture, especially where their published output within the census period is limited.

3.40.20 Where statements are made about publications, research activities, and staff circumstances, these should be self-explanatory or easily verifiable.


Research Structure and Environment

3.40.21 Submissions should:

  1. Explain the mechanisms and practices for promoting research and sustaining and developing an active and vital research culture.
  2. Define any research groups, including their membership (referring to RA1).
  3. Define briefly the prime activities of individual staff or research groups, how they operate and what their main achievements are.
  4. Describe the nature and quality of the research infrastructure, including facilities for research students.
  5. Describe any arrangements which are in place for supporting interdisciplinary or collaborative research, either within the institution or with other institutions.
  6. List other UoAs to which related work has been submitted and clarify any differences between departmental structure and the UoA framework, together with any difficulties arising from such differences.
  7. Provide information on relationships with industry, commerce and the public sector, or other research users, and, where appropriate, on the account taken of Government policy initiatives and objectives.

Staffing Policy

3.40.22 Submissions should:

  1. Describe arrangements for the development and support of the research work of staff.
  2. Describe arrangements for developing the research of younger or new researchers and for integrating them into a supportive research culture.
  3. Explain the role and contribution of staff who have been recruited in the run-up to the census date, in particular staff taking up appointments on or after 1 April 2000 (Category A* staff).
  4. Comment more generally on how staff movements during the census period have affected the strength and coherence of research culture and activity.
  5. Explain the role and contribution of Category C staff.

Research Strategy

3.40.23 Submissions should:

  1. Provide a statement about the main objectives and activities in research over the next five years. Information should be provided on ongoing long-term or major research projects, and their place within the overall research strategy.
  2. Evaluate progress against the research plans put forward in the 1996 RAE, noting any changes to the plans and the reasons for these.
  3. Provide a concise self-assessment of overall research performance during the census period. The Panel will view an honest, self-critical and realistic assessment as an indication of a willingness to learn from experience.


Evidence of Esteem

3.40.24 Submissions should list indicators of peer esteem which relate to the research activity of the staff submitted. These could include editorship of major journals or series, organisation and hosting of major conferences, scholarly reviews, invitations to act as assessors for major projects or as external examiners for research theses, headship of professional accreditation bodies or comparable activities. Submissions should concentrate on the most significant indicators rather than attempting to provide an exhaustive list.

Individual Staff Circumstances

3.40.35 Submissions should note briefly any individual staff circumstances which have significantly affected the contribution of those concerned to the submission (for example, young or new researchers, engagement on long-term projects, major institutional responsibilities, sick leave or career breaks).

Contributions by Non Research-active Staff

3.40.26 Explain briefly the role and contribution of staff not cited as research active.

Research Studentships and External Income

3.40.27 Institutions are asked to provide brief information on any research studentships secured and the research activity which these are supporting, and the activities of research assistants and students generally.

3.40.28 Institutions are asked to provide brief information on the research projects for which external income has been secured.

Working Methods

3.40.29 The Panel will consider each submission as a complete entity in determining ratings.

3.40.30 The Panel will examine in detail virtually all cited outputs. The work of examining in detail the cited outputs will be shared between panel members in such a way as to achieve an equitable workload and apply the Panel's expertise most effectively. No one panel member alone will be responsible for examining in detail the entire research output in a submission.

3.40.31 Each member of research active staff cited will be regarded as a contributor to research activity. The cited research output of each member of research active staff will be discussed by the Panel as a whole and assessed against the criteria in paragraph 3.40.9.

3.40.32 Individual submissions will be assigned to up to two panel members to make an initial assessment of all the other evidence of research activity and culture presented in the submission. Additionally, two panel members will take responsibility for assessing particular categories of evidence across a number of submissions. However, subject to declared interests, all panel members will read all submissions and contribute to the discussion and assessment.

3.40.33 Each submission will then be discussed as a whole by the Panel before provisional ratings are given. The Panel will review provisional ratings at a later meeting(s), both for the individual submission and against other submissions, to ensure that a consistent approach has been followed. The Panel will seek to achieve consensus on final ratings. Where consensus cannot be reached, the majority opinion of the Panel will be accepted.

3.40.34 The Panel considers that the approach outlined above will ensure an equitable and objective treatment of all submissions.

3.40.35 In determining whether research activity equates to attainable levels of national or international excellence, the Panel's judgement will be one solely of quality, and not related to the geographical location of subject matter or to dissemination. The Panel will not equate international excellence with work on international themes, nor will it equate work on local or national themes with national excellence. Rather it will view international excellence as equating to research activity which it deems is of the highest quality it is possible to attain within the field of Celtic Studies.

3.40.36 Recognised centres of excellence in Celtic Studies exist in the Republic of Ireland, Europe, America and elsewhere. The Panel will refer all submissions which it has rated 5/5* and 4 to up to three non-UK based experts for consideration and feedback on its identification of international excellence.

Last updated 19 April 2000

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