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Section III: Panelsí Criteria and Working Methods

3.46 Iberian and Latin American Languages, UoA 55

UoA Descriptor

3.46.1 The UoA includes: Medieval Iberian Literatures and Cultures; Golden Age Literatures and Cultures; the Literatures and Cultures of 18th, 19th and 20th Century Spain; Colonial, 19th and 20th Century Spanish American Literatures and Cultures; Literatures and Cultures in Portuguese (including Brazilian and Lusophone African Studies); Hispanic Linguistics; Film; Gender Studies; Literary Theory; Cultural Studies.

UoA Boundaries

3.46.2 The Panel regards its field of coverage as that of Iberian and Latin American languages and their associated literatures and cultures. Research outputs on other subjects areas which happen to be written in these languages should not be submitted to this UoA. The Panel will refer submissions which it deems to fall mainly or entirely outside its subject area to a more appropriate panel or panels. Where a submission contains some items or elements which it feels lie beyond its expertise, advice from other panels (such as other languages, History, History of Art, Politics, American Studies and European Studies) will be sought, but the assessment of the research will be in accordance with the criteria of the Iberian and Latin American Languages Unit of Assessment, and it will be the Iberian and Latin American Languages Panel that will make the final decision. In those cases where no obvious source of outside expertise exists in other panels, the Panel will consult individual specialists as the need arises. (An adviser for Catalan studies will be identified).

Interdisciplinary Research

3.46.3 The Panel includes several members engaged in interdisciplinary research, and it is therefore expected that the Panel will contain sufficient expertise to consider a significant proportion of interdisciplinary research. Where it is felt that the subject area goes beyond the expertise of this Panel advice will be sought from the appropriate panel. Interdisciplinary research will be reviewed using the same criteria and working methods as single disciplinary research.

Joint Submissions

3.46.4 Joint submissions will be assessed using the same criteria and working methods as single submissions. Where the joint submission contains outputs in subject areas beyond the expertise of this Panel advice will be sought from the appropriate panel.

3.46.5 In the textual part of the submission institutions should a) indicate the nature of their collaboration and b) explain the mechanisms and practices which support their collaboration.

Treatment of Evidence

3.46.6 The Panel will base its assessment of submissions primarily on its professionally informed judgement of the quality of the research output cited.

3.46.7 The Panel will use all other elements of the submission as evidence of the context and culture within which the research is conducted. The textual commentary contained in RA5 and RA6 will be regarded as particularly significant in informing the Panel's understanding of the research context, of ongoing research activity and of future research plans.

3.46.8 In assessing the quality of cited research outputs the Panel will take account of the extent to which general understanding and knowledge in the field have been advanced, or, in the case of recently published work, will be advanced, at a national or international level. 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.

3.46.9 The Panel expects that each institution's submission will comprise the research outputs which reflect the most significant research over the assessment period. The Panel will form its judgement on the basis of the whole submission, not solely on the basis of individual contributions.

Research Output (RA2)

3.46.10 The Panel has sought to give as comprehensive a list as possible 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, which is alphabetical. Each item will be assessed on its individual merits.

  1. Academic journal articles, including review articles and articles in electronic journals
  2. Bibliographies* (to the extent that they embody research)
  3. Books - including:
    1. monographs
    2. scholarly editions
    3. dictionaries
    4. edited special issues of journals*, or collections of essays, or proceedings of conferences, colloquia and symposia, with substantial research input on the part of the editor
  4. Chapters in books - including:
    1. essays in collections
    2. contributions to conference proceedings
    3. contributions to Festschriften
  5. Creative writing* (to the extent that it embodies research).
    1. Short works - including:
    2. published lectures
    3. pamphlets
    4. dictionary entries
    5. encyclopaedia articles
    6. working papers
  6. Teaching materials* (to the extent that they embody research) - including:
    1. textbooks
    2. student guides
    3. readers
    4. source books
    5. language materials
  7. Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) material
  8. Translations* (to the extent that they embody research).
  9. Other categories* (to the extent that they embody research) - including:
    1. recorded performance
    2. Higher Education pedagogic research in the discipline

3.46.11 Where a submission cites any of the items starred (*)an indication should be given of how they embody research and of what research input was involved by providing a statement of no more than 300 words in the 'Other relevant details' field on RA2.

3.46.12 The Panel will accept output in other media (such as CD-ROM or papers placed on the Internet) as published material to be judged by the same criteria as other sources.

3.46.13 Where an individual has contributed more than one item to the same publication, these items may be submitted separately or together. Dictionary entries or encyclopaedia articles may, likewise, be entered separately or as related groups.

3.46.14 The quality of co-authored work will be assessed using the same criteria as other outputs.

3.46.15 Collections of articles by the same author will only be given credit in so far as they embody research first published within the assessment period, though the reworking of previous pieces put together with new ones to make a book will be treated as valid research output for the purposes of assessment. Similarly, re-issues or translations into other languages of books or articles first published before the assessment period will only be considered eligible if they contain substantial revisions involving new research.

3.46.16 The Panel collectively will examine in detail virtually all of the items of research output cited in submissions. It is envisaged that a minimum of 25% of outputs will be examined by more than one member. Outputs will be selected for a second reading primarily where they cross areas of expertise or are borderline critical on the rating scale.

Research Students and Research Studentships (RA3)

3.46.17 Due recognition will be given to research student recruitment and degrees awarded, as evidence of an active research culture and the fostering of future development in the discipline. The Panel will pay due regard to studentships won in internal or external competition.

External Research Income (RA4)

3.46.18 Although the Panel recognises that research income is not necessarily an indicator or pre-condition of high quality research in its subject areas, the acquisition of external research income, especially where funds have been won competitively, will be regarded as a positive indicator, reflecting peer esteem in a competitive environment.

Textual Commentary


Research Structure and Environment

3.46.19 The Panel will look for evidence of a research culture and a research strategy. Institutions should be aware that form RA5 from the 1996 RAE will be available to the panels. Form RA5 should give a concise statement of the department's current research profile as well as developing the broad picture of the research environment in which work is carried out.

3.46.20 The Panel notes that the quality of a particular work cited by a particular researcher may compensate for the absence of other cited outputs. However, where submitted staff have either fewer than four cited outputs or outputs dating predominantly from the early part of the assessment period departments are encouraged to provide an explanation.

3.46.21 The Panel will not penalise small departments by, for instance, imposing on them a model of research activity that can only, or more easily, be met by larger departments. However, where a department is only submitting a small number of staff and/or where staff entered are from different structures or units, it is incumbent on the institution to demonstrate clearly an active research culture amongst the staff returned.

3.46.22 There is no expectation that institutional/departmental researchers should be organised into research groups. However where research groups do exist institutions should define the groups, who belongs to them (referring to RA1), their prime activities, how they operate and their main achievements.

3.46.23 The Panel invites institutions to draw attention to substantial bodies of work not listed elsewhere in the submission.

3.46.24 The Panel suggests that departments:

  1. List other UoAs to which related work has been submitted and detail any difficulties of fit between departmental structure and the UoA framework.
  2. Explain the mechanisms and practices for promoting research and sustaining and developing an active and vital research culture.
  3. Describe the nature and quality of the research infrastructure, including facilities for research students.
  4. Where applicable, describe any arrangements which are in place for supporting interdisciplinary or collaborative research.

Staffing Policy

3.46.25 Institutions should include details of less experienced and /or recently recruited researchers. The Panel will take into account the fact that departments may have sought to encourage less experienced researchers and / or recently appointed researchers who have not produced published outputs within the assessment period. However departments should describe the arrangements and mechanisms in place to develop and support these staff and their research.

3.46.26 Where appropriate departments should:

  1. explain the role and contribution of staff who have been recruited in the twelve month period up to the census date.
  2. comment on how the departure during the assessment period of staff in categories A*, B and D has affected the strength, coherence and research culture of the department at the census date.
  3. explain how Category C staff are integrated into the work of the department.

Additional Observations

3.46.27 Where co-authored works have been cited, the nature and percentage contribution by each named researcher should be provided in the 'Other relevant details' field on RA2.

Research Strategy

3.46.28 Departments should provide a statement about the main objectives and activities in research over the next five years. The Panel will evaluate these against the other evidence detailed within the submission and will take into account the objectives stated in the 1996 RAE, whilst acknowledging that the balance of interests within departments may have changed. The Panel's attention should be drawn to ongoing research work that is not producing immediate visible outcomes.

Self Assessment

3.46.29 Departments should provide a self-assessment of performance in relation to the issues detailed above in the textual commentary and where relevant evaluate the research plans put forward in the 1996 RAE. The Panel welcomes self-critical and constructive self-assessments which will enable it to assess the viability of the current research strategy.


Evidence of Esteem

3.46.30 Indicators of peer esteem which relate to the staff submitted (for example, editorship of major journals and monograph series, book reviews, competitive awards, honours, election to learned societies, invited papers at international conferences, especially keynote papers, invitations to lecture in other institutions, membership of editorial boards, etc) will be given due recognition.

3.46.31 The Panel will take account of activity which supports the national and international research culture, such as the organisation of conferences and collaborative activity which enhances national or international research.

3.46.32 Institutions should draw attention to grants and income that are not administered through an institution's own accounts and hence are not eligible for inclusion in form RA4. Institutions are also invited to note any recent staff PhDs and any research outputs by research students which do not appear elsewhere in the return.

Individual Staff Circumstances

3.46.33 The Panel will take account of any exceptional individual staff circumstances which have significantly affected their contribution to the submission (e.g. periods of sick leave, career breaks, engagement on long term research projects etc).

Contributions by Non Research-active Staff

3.36.34 Institutions may, if they wish, discuss the contribution to research of staff who have not been returned as research active.

Working Methods

3.46.35 Each panel member will read every submission. At the first meeting of the Panel the cited outputs will be divided among panel members according to their areas of expertise and items which may require advice from other Panels or specialist advisers will be identified at this stage.

3.46.36 Individual panel members will make their own preliminary assessment of all cited outputs read by them and of all submissions and will then give provisional ratings. Submissions will be discussed by the Panel as a whole before provisional Panel ratings are suggested and cases presenting difficulty are identified. Further work will be undertaken on these latter cases and all provisional ratings will be reviewed at a later meeting. There will be a sufficient number of meetings to allow specific queries about particular submissions to be followed up; to allow panel members to do further reading of what have been identified as key or borderline-critical works; to seek the views of specialist advisers and other Panels; and to allow further reflection before the final and definitive decisions on the ratings are taken. All submissions graded earlier in the process will be reconsidered at a later period to review the decisions reached in the light of decisions taken at later meetings.

3.46.37 It is hoped that the decision on all final ratings will be achieved through consensus. In cases where consensus is not attained, final gradings will be decided by a simple majority vote of the Panel members.

Definition of Quality

3.46.38 In assessing whether work is of international or national excellence, the Panel will use its professional judgement. Panel members have been chosen for their standing in, and knowledge of, the subject. The Panel's definition of international excellence is not concerned with the publisher or journal or with the nature of the topic but with the achievement of the highest standards attainable. The Panel's professional judgement of international or national excellence will be based on the quality, depth, ambition and originality of the research design and methodology, by the scholarship displayed, and by the impact of findings on a particular field. Impact is measured by the extent to which informed debate in the subject has been or is likely to be enhanced.

User Representation

3.46.39 The Panel does not consider it appropriate to seek user input into the assessment of submissions in Iberian and Latin American Languages.

Non-UK based Experts

3.46.40 The Panel will make use of not more than five non-UK based experts from around the world as appropriate. These experts will each cover different areas of the subject. They will be asked to comment on the appropriateness of all 5* and 5 ratings, along with a selection of 4 ratings, especially borderline 4/5 ratings. Each will receive the full submission from each institution, along with any relevant briefing material. The Panel will take notice of the experts' comments, though the final responsibility for the ratings given will be that of the Panel itself.

Last updated 17 April 2000

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