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Section III: Panelsí Criteria and Working Methods

3.47 Linguistics, UoA 56

UoA Descriptor

3.47.1 The Linguistics Panel (UoA 56) will examine submissions from HEIs covering research activity in all areas of theoretical, descriptive and applied linguistics. (This includes, but is not limited to: syntax, morphology, semantics, pragmatics, phonology, phonetics, socio-linguistics, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, historical linguistics, philology, the history of linguistics, stylistics, text linguistics, first and second language acquisition, clinical linguistics, speech and language technology and forensic linguistics.)

UoA Boundaries

3.47.2 The Panel recognises that some submissions may span the boundaries of other UoAs. Where the Panel concludes that it requires expertise in an area not covered by existing Panel Members, cross-referrals to other Panels may be made. For example in the case of Higher Education pedagogy relating to linguistics. Moreover, advice may be sought from specialist advisers where appropriate at an early stage.


3.47.3 There will be a separate sub-panel for Phonetics, the Chair of which will be a full member of the main Panel. A second member of the main Panel will attend meetings of the Phonetics sub-panel to facilitate communication with the main Panel. Submissions to the Linguistics panel will, when appropriate, be copied to the Phonetics Sub-Panel, which will assess the phonetics component. The Phonetics Sub-Panel will use the same criteria and working methods as the main panel. The Sub-Panel will suggest a provisional grade for the Phonetics component, which will then be one of the factors taken into account by the main Panel in determining the overall grade for the whole submission for this UoA. In setting out form RA2, institutions should indicate in the 'Other relevant details' field on RA2 each work that they would wish to be assessed by the Phonetics Sub-Panel.

Interdisciplinary Research

3.47.4 The Panel includes several members engaged in interdisciplinary research and full credit will be given to interdisciplinary works. Where necessary, such items will be referred to outside assessors for consideration. Their assessments will be taken into account along with all the other evidence for the relevant submission.

Treatment of Evidence

3.47.5 The Panel will primarily base its assessment of submissions on its professionally informed judgement of the quality of cited publications and other works.

3.47.6 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:

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

3.47.7 The Panel collectively will examine in detail at least 50% of the items of research output cited in submissions. When a work has undergone rigorous external editorial and refereeing procedures, this may be taken as an external indicator of quality. The Panel's reading will be focused particularly closely on works which are unfamiliar to the Panel and/or have not been through rigorous editorial and refereeing procedures and outputs listed in submissions which are on the borderline of a particular rating.

Research Output (RA2)

3.47.8 The Panel anticipates that each researcher will submit four items of research output. However, there is no automatic penalty where fewer than four items are cited. The Panel will use its judgement and knowledge of normal practices and expectations within the field to examine each case on its own merits. In particular it may consider an extended piece of work of high quality to be the equivalent of several shorter items. In the case of newer researchers the panel welcomes verifiable evidence of their potential in RA6.

3.47.9 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. In evaluating all works cited, whether single-authored or co-authored, the criterion will be the extent to which they embody research excellence.

  1. Books; monographs; collections of articles, possibly written by others, with a substantial editorial introduction or commentary; handbooks; textbooks. Where an individual has edited a book, or a special issue of a journal and has also contributed one or more items in the same publication, these may be submitted separately or together.
  2. In evaluating textbooks and reference materials, the Panel will form a view as to how far these are themselves original contributions to knowledge and understanding. Only the original elements of the research will gain credit. Institutions should point out in the 'Other relevant details' field on RA2 what the research element is.
  3. Journal articles (including articles in electronic journals).
  4. Chapters in books.
  5. Papers in conference proceedings and in Festschriften; and other comparable works, e.g. inaugural lectures, working papers and articles in collections on a single theme.
  6. Where co-authored or co-edited works have been cited, the relative contribution of the named researcher should be specified in the 'Other relevant details' field on RA2 using the descriptor "primary..", "equal.." or "secondary contributor" and by identifying key pages of the text.

3.47.10 The Panel accepts that there are other media in which work may be published. Other forms of output will be assessed on the same principles as publications.

Research Students and Research Studentships (RA3)

3.47.11 Due weight will be given to submissions showing evidence of the recruitment and development of postgraduate research students including the number of doctorates awarded. Where studentships have been awarded as a result of external competition, this will be taken as an independent indication of quality. Institutionally funded studentships, when taken in the total context of the submission, may indicate that there is a commitment to promoting future research growth.

External Research Income (RA4)

3.47.12 Due weight will be given to the level of externally generated research income. Where such income has been won through a competitive, refereed bidding process this may be taken as an external indicator of quality. The Panel recognises that the opportunities for obtaining external research income vary across the discipline.

Textual Commentary


3.47.13 The Panel will look for clear evidence of a research culture and of the potential to develop future research. Precisely stated plans and research programmes will be viewed more favourably than vague statements of intent. Institutions should structure their responses under the following four headings and are invited to use, where appropriate, the sub-headings to help to structure their responses. It is not necessary to respond under every sub-heading and the Panel recognises that not all sub-headings may be appropriate for all sizes of unit.

Research Structure and Environment

3.47.14 Research groups, who belongs to them, their prime activities, how they operate and their main achievements.

3.47.15 Other UoAs to which related work has been submitted and any difficulties of fit between departmental structure and the UoA framework.

3.47.16 The mechanisms and practices for promoting research and sustaining and developing an active and vital research culture.

3.47.17 The nature and quality of the research infrastructure.

3.47.18 Any arrangements which are in place for supporting interdisciplinary or collaborative research.

3.47.19 Information on any relationships with research users.

Staffing policy

3.47.20 The arrangements for the development and support of the research work of staff.

3.47.21 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. The Panel will give due credit to departments which have recruited individuals at the beginning of their research careers and to those which have sought to encourage less experienced researchers, provided verifiable evidence of research activity can be given.

3.47.22 The role and contribution of any category A* staff who have joined the department.

3.47.23 The ways in which the departure of any staff in categories A*, B and D has affected the strength, coherence and research culture of the department at the census date.

Research Strategy

3.47.24 A statement about the main objectives and activities in research over the next five years.

3.47.25 Where relevant, a commentary on the research plans put forward in the 1996 RAE including any changes made and any significant shifts in research focus.

Self Assessment

3.47.26 A self-assessment of performance over the current review period in relation to the issues detailed above, which should be realistic and constructive.


3.47.27 This section of the form gives HEIs the opportunity to offer information not given elsewhere in their submission under three possible headings:

Evidence of Esteem

3.47.28 List evidence of peer esteem e.g. Fellowships, editorships of journals, monograph series and other collected works, membership of editorial boards, key-note addresses/speeches.

Individual Staff Circumstances

3.47.29 List individual staff circumstances which may have significantly affected their contribution to the submission e.g. periods of sick leave, career breaks, engagement on long term projects, outline of former career if new to research.

Contributions by Non Research-active Staff

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

Working Methods

3.47.31 All Panel members will read all RA1, RA5 and RA6 submissions and receive the standard analyses provided by the RAE team. All statistical and numerical data provided will be used in conjunction with and in the context of the qualitative information presented within the submission.

3.47.32 Individual Panel members will conduct their own independent preliminary assessments of all submissions made and provide provisional ratings to the Panel. The provisional ratings will be used to initiate discussion over a series of meetings.

3.47.33 Where appropriate, either submissions will be sent to other panels or specific items will be sent to specialist advisers, whose reports will then be incorporated into the assessment process. The final decision on grading rests with the Linguistics Panel and will be taken in the light of the Linguistics Panel working methods.

3.47.34 All submissions will be considered in the light of the same criteria.

3.47.35 Each submission will be discussed in detail by the Panel as a whole before a final grading is agreed. It is expected that the final judgement will be reached by consensus, but if consensus cannot be reached, a vote will be taken. The Panel will revisit all gradings at the end of the exercise to ensure consistency between grades initially allocated on different occasions.

International Excellence

3.47.36 The Panel's definition of international excellence is research which, in the professional judgement of the Panel Members, can stand comparison with the best research anywhere in the world. Indicators of international peer recognition detailed in RA6 will be used as supporting evidence of International Excellence.

Non-UK Based Experts

3.47.37 The Panel will identify a group of non-UK based experts whose known professional judgement and knowledge of the UK research environment will enable them to provide advice on international standards. Submissions provisionally rated 5 or 5* together with a sample of those provisionally rated 4 will be sent to non-UK based experts for their consideration and feedback to the main Panel, with whom the final decision on grading rests.

Last updated 17 April 2000

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