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Section III: Panelsí Criteria and Working Methods

3.44 Italian, UoA 53

UoA Descriptor

3.44.1 The UoA includes: Medieval literature, including Dante; Renaissance literature; Early modern literature; Modern and contemporary literature; Theatre studies; Linguistics and history of the language; Cultural studies and cultural history; Film studies; Media studies; Gender studies; History of Italy; Social and economic history; Modern social and political studies; History of ideas; Translation studies; Teaching methodology.

UoA Boundaries

3.44.2 The Panel believes that its boundaries are well-defined, in accordance with the title and description of the Unit of Assessment.

3.44.3 Panel members have a broad range of expertise and expect to be able to assess the great majority of submissions without reference beyond the Panel's membership. However, where submissions require expertise beyond that of its members, the Panel will seek advice from members of other panels or other specialist advisers as appropriate (see also 3.44.5).


3.44.4 The Panel does not envisage the need to establish sub-panels.

Interdisciplinary Research

3.44.5 The nature of Italian Studies in the UK is multidisciplinary and often includes an interdisciplinary approach. The Panel will give due credit to submissions of an interdisciplinary nature and, as the expertise of the Panel members is wide-ranging, it does not anticipate that it will normally need to consult beyond its membership. However, where necessary, the Panel will cross-refer to other panels or seek advice from other specialist advisers. Any advice obtained will be judged in accordance with the Panel's own criteria.

Joint Submissions

3.44.6 Should any joint submissions be received (ie. single submissions made jointly by two institutions), these will be considered on their merits in the same way as unitary submissions.

Treatment of Evidence

3.44.7 The Panel will operate within the framework set out in Sections I and II of RAE5/99. All submissions will be considered in the light of the general statements in Section II: Introduction to Criteria and Working Methods and submitting departments are requested to refer to these.

3.44.8 The Panel will base its assessments primarily on its professionally informed judgement of the quality of the output cited. In considering the various items of evidence submitted, the Panel will give greater weight to the cited research output; other items of evidence, e.g. numbers of research students, research studentships, research income and research culture, will be given weight relative to the size and staff profile of the submitting department. Submissions which include individual members of research active staff for whom fewer than four items of research output are cited will not be penalised automatically but will be considered in the light of additional evidence supplied in the textual commentary in forms RA5 and RA6. The Panel will take into account that there may be recently appointed researchers new to the profession, who have produced little or no published output in the assessment period. The Panel will not penalise the relevant department, but will consider each case in the light of evidence (presented in RA5) of an effective policy for encouraging the research of new recruits.

Research Output (RA2)

3.44.9 The Panel expects cited research output to fall into the following principal categories:

  1. Academic journal articles
  2. (Note: while attaching importance to the refereeing process, the Panel recognises that some types of research, e.g. particular specialisms and work which is highly innovative, may be published in less prominent journals, and will give these due credit.)

  3. Bibliographies
  4. Books - including:
    1. Single-authored works
    2. Co-authored works
    3. Scholarly editions
    4. Edited special issues of journals, collections of essays, dictionaries, companions, or encyclopaedic works, etc., with substantial research input on the part of the editor.
  5. Chapters in books - including:
    1. Essays in collections
    2. Contributions to conference proceedings
    3. Contributions to Festschriften
  6. Creative writing
  7. Short works - including:
    1. Published lectures
    2. Pamphlets
    3. Dictionary entries
    4. Encyclopaedia entries
    5. Note: Dictionary and encyclopaedia entries appearing within the same work may be entered separately or as related groups.

    6. Working papers
  8. Teaching materials - including
    1. Textbooks
    2. Student guides
    3. Readers
    4. Source books
  9. Language materials (including audio and video material)
  10. Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) material
  11. Translations
  12. Web resources
  13. Non-printed materials.

3.44.10 The Panel has sought to provide a comprehensive list of possible research outputs but recognises that it is not exhaustive. The Panel makes no a priori assumption that any one category is worth more than any other and no ranking or weighting should be inferred from the order in which the categories are listed. Each item will be assessed on its individual merits.

3.44.11 The Panel collectively will examine in detail virtually all research outputs submitted.

3.44.12 The Panel will assess the quality of each item of research output in accordance with the extent to which it is original, ie. it leads to an increase in knowledge and/or understanding in the discipline.

Research Students and Research Studentships (RA3)

3.44.13 The Panel will give weight to the data provided on research students and research studentships relative to the size and staff profile of the submitting Department or unit.

3.44.14 The Panel will give greater weight to supra-departmental research studentships in the light of the competition for obtaining them and in accordance with information provided in the textual commentary in form RA5.

External Research Income (RA4)

3.44.15 The Panel will give weight to the data provided on external research income relative to the size and staff profile of the submitting department.

3.44.16 The Panel will consider external research income in the light of the nature of the competition for obtaining it, in accordance with the textual commentary in form RA5.

Textual Commentary

3.44.17 In the textual commentary, the Panel invites submitting departments to address the points listed below. However, the Panel recognises that a number of the points will not be relevant to some institutions and that additional information may sometimes need to be given. Submitting departments should therefore respond as appropriate

3.44.18 The textual commentary should contain an element of self-assessment, comprising an evaluation of the department achievements in relation to plans submitted to the 1996 RAE, together with any changes in research interests since that date which may have resulted in strengthening or weakening particular areas. The submission of an objective self-assessment will facilitate the Panel's judgement of the current research strategy.


Research Structure and Environment

3.44.19 Explain the mechanisms and practices for promoting research and sustaining and developing an active and vital research culture.

3.44.20 Describe the nature and quality of the research infrastructure, including facilities for research students.

3.44.21 Describe any arrangements which are in place for supporting interdisciplinary or collaborative research, e.g. research groupings within departments or across departmental boundaries.

3.44.22 List other UoAs to which work has been submitted and detail any difficulties of fit between departmental structure and the UoA framework.

3.44.23 Provide information on research relationships with industry and commerce or other users and where appropriate on the account taken of Government policy initiatives and objectives.

Staffing Policy

3.44.24 Describe the arrangements for the development and support of the research work of staff.

3.44.25 Describe any arrangements which are in place for developing the research of younger and/or new researchers and for integrating them into a wider, supportive research culture.

3.44.26 Where appropriate, explain the role and contribution of category A* staff who have joined the department.

3.44.27 Where appropriate, comment on how the departure of staff in categories A*, B and D has affected the strength, coherence and research culture of the department at the census date.

Additional Information

3.44.28 Describe the nature of research studentships and external research funding obtained by the department, in particular the sources and the nature of the competition for obtaining them. In what way does the funding support the department's research?

3.44.29 Describe any forms of research-linked activities in which members of the department are involved, e.g. editorial work, acting as a regular reviewer for a named journal, organisation of conferences and involvement in collaborative work that enhances national and international research.

3.44.30 Where appropriate, provide contextual information about the additional research output of any individual member(s) of research active staff for whom four items have been cited.

Research Strategy

3.44.31 Provide a statement about the main objectives and activities in research over the next five years. The Panel's attention should be drawn to ongoing research work that is not producing immediate visible outcomes.

3.44.32 Institutions should be aware that their research plans from the RAE in 1996 will be available to the Panel. Departments should evaluate the outcomes of the 1996 research plans, including reference to any divergence between these plans and actual achievements, as well as drawing the Panel's attention to areas of particular strength and development.


Evidence of Esteem

3.44.33 List indicators of peer esteem which relate to the staff submitted. The Panel will give credit to indicators of peer esteem such as the following (it recognises that the list is not exhaustive):

  1. Translation of individual's work
  2. Regular reviewer for named journal(s)
  3. Invited participation in conferences
  4. Editor or member of editorial board (for refereed journal or book series)
  5. Reviewing work for publishers
  6. Participation in collaborative research projects
  7. Examiner for research degrees
  8. Officer or committee member of learned society or association
  9. Academic honours.

Individual Staff Circumstances

3.44.34 Indicate any individual staff circumstances which have significantly affected their contribution to the submission (e.g. periods of sick leave, career breaks, engagement on long-term projects, staff at an early stage in their career).

Contributions by Non Research-active Staff

3.44.35 Institutions may also wish to discuss the relative contribution made to research by staff who have not been returned as research active.

Working Methods

3.44.36 The Panel will not use a quantitative approach to assessing evidence.

3.44.37 All Panel members will read each submission. The Panel will seek to ensure that all cited research output is assessed by at least one Panel member, according to the individual's expertise. Where appropriate, individual items of cited research will be assessed by a second member of the Panel.

3.44.38 Individual Panel members will make their own initial assessment of all the submissions and arrive at preliminary ratings in advance of the first Panel meeting in the assessment phase. Submissions will then be discussed by the Panel in order to identify difficult or problematic cases and to arrive at provisional Panel ratings. During the reading or examination of the cited research output, particular attention will be given to these difficult or problematic cases. Provisional ratings of all the submissions will be reviewed at a later meeting of the Panel when final decisions on ratings will be made. The Panel will seek to achieve consensus on all final ratings. If this is not possible the ratings will be determined by voting.

3.44.39 The Panel interprets 'international excellence' to refer to a quality standard and not to the nature or scope of any particular research. For 'international excellence' the Panel will judge submissions against the best work being done anywhere in the world in the relevant fields, taking into account originality, significant new information or ideas which will advance the subject and increase understanding and knowledge.

3.44.40 The Panel will use a group of up to five nominated non-UK based experts to verify its provisional ratings of 5 and 5*. Samples of submissions to which the Panel has provisionally given a rating of 4 will also be supplied.

Last updated 19 April 2000

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