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Another UoA

Section III: Panelsí Criteria and Working Methods

3.50 History, UoA 59

UoA Descriptor and Boundaries

3.50.1 History includes all aspects of the study of the past except those specifically falling within the remit of other panels including, for example: Political, Economic, Business and Social History; Early and Late Medieval History (British and European); Early Modern History (British and European); Modern British and European History; Imperial/Colonial History; Military History; International History; History of the Americas; Extra-European History; History of Science, Technology and Medicine; History of Ideas; Cultural History; Religious History; Historiography. Research into learning and teaching in history should be directed to the Education Panel where the concern is with the mode of delivery, but the Panel will assess research into learning and teaching which is concerned primarily with the discipline of history.


3.50.2 There will be no sub-panels. Specialist advisers will be used by the Panel where necessary, for instance to assess some work in areas such as Economic History (where there is a pronounced concentration on econometrics or economic theory), Demographic History, History of Eastern Europe, some aspects of Gender History, Welsh History, Irish History. The Panel may also use external advisers to assess research which is published in certain languages. Further areas where the Panel requires advice will be identified once the Panel has examined the submissions and the Panel may also consult other relevant panels where the nature of the work submitted suggests this.

Interdisciplinary Research.

3.50.3 The Panel regards much historical research as interdisciplinary in nature. The Panel therefore welcomes interdisciplinary submissions and does not expect to experience any significant problems in assessing them.

3.50.4 The Panel is aware that not all institutions organise their research in a way which easily fits the units of assessment established for the RAE. Where this is the case, institutions are invited to draw attention to the place of history within the institutional structure on form RA5. In all cases the Panel will give primary consideration to the quality of the research outputs listed in the submission when forming its judgements.

Joint Submissions

3.50.5 The Panel will assess joint submissions on the same basis as single-institution submissions.

Treatment of Evidence

3.50.6 The Panel will base its judgement of submissions primarily on its professionally formed judgement of the quality of cited publications and other work. All forms of research output will be assessed on the same basis: it cannot automatically be assumed that the quality of a monograph will be considered superior to that of an article. The basis of assessment is set out further in paragraph 3.50.47.

3.50.7 The Panel will use the quantitative evidence of research student activity, studentships and external research income as secondary bases for its judgement. The secondary indicators will be used to augment and support the primary criterion and, where appropriate, to moderate provisional decisions. In considering this evidence, the Panel will not set absolute levels of income or activity, but will have regard to the circumstances and mix of subject specialisms of the department. Further information on the treatment of research students and studentships is set out at paragraph 3.50.16.

Research Output (RA2)

3.50.8 The Panel will consider publications under the five main categories which are set out below. No ranking or weighting should be inferred from the order in which these categories are listed; the Panel will not limit assessment to standard research outputs such as monographs, but will consider all outputs which embody the outcome of the author's research, as it is defined for the purpose of the RAE:

  1. Authored books
  2. Academic journal articles.
  3. Chapters in books.
  4. Published conference contributions.
  5. Other works: this category may include a wide range of works, including edited texts, scholarly bibliographies, databases, translations, exhibitions, etc.

3.50.9 The Panel will not distinguish between print publications and electronic or digitised publications, but will assess both equally having regard to the extent to which they meet the definition of research used for the purposes of the RAE. The Panel is aware that developments in electronic publication are very rapid and that this medium is increasingly used for publishing the outputs of research of the very highest quality. In order to assess an exhibition or other similar output, the Panel will normally require a catalogue or similar publication.

3.50.10 Textbooks which incorporate considerable personal research or substantially advance the subject area will be considered as research.

3.50.11 The Panel will consider as research all translations, editions of sources and databases where there has been substantial editorial and scholarly input. The Panel will treat all editions of texts or sources in the same way, whatever the mode of publication.

3.50.12 It should be noted that four items are the maximum submission. Equally there will be no automatic penalties where an individual submits fewer than four items. Judgement will be made on the basis of the quality of the best work assessed and grading of the work of individuals will not depend on averaging the items. There will therefore be no penalties necessarily incurred by the inclusion of some weaker work alongside excellent. Due credit will be given to all authors for any joint-authored work submitted.

3.50.13 The Panel regards the editing of historical texts and other sources as a major form of research, and such work may be listed in RA2 Research Output. Other editorial work, such as the editorship of major internationally circulated journals, conference proceedings, collections of papers, bibliographies and monograph series, and including membership of editorial boards, may indicate and may contribute to a research culture within a department, even when such work does not itself constitute research within the RAE definition. The Panel will expect institutions to include information about these other activities in RA6. The Panel recognises that on occasion editing a book or similar work may involve a significant degree of research contribution on the part of the editor. Where this is the case such works may be included in RA2.

3.50.14 Other published work of practical significance to the research culture, such as publications from research libraries and archives, or technical manuals in historical computing, will more properly be referred to in RA6.

3.50.15 In assessing research against the criteria of national and international excellence, 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. The size of departments will not be an indicator of research quality, nor will breadth of research expertise across a wide range of topics be regarded as necessarily superior or inferior to a concentration of research within a narrower focus.

Research Students and Research Studentships (RA3)

3.50.16 The Panel will take into account the proportion of staff engaged in supervision and overall numbers of research students and research degrees awarded. The Panel is aware that joint supervision of research students may affect these numbers. While the Panel will regard success in winning AHRB, ESRC or other peer-reviewed research studentships as a measure of peer esteem, those awarded by other external bodies or by institutions themselves will not necessarily be considered less significant.

External Research Income (RA4)

3.50.17 Success in gaining external research income will be regarded positively by the Panel. Where there is little or no such income the Panel will take account of the circumstances and mix of specialisms in the department before coming to a judgement. The Panel will not automatically regard external funding from non-peer reviewed sources as of lesser weight than that which derives from Research Councils, the AHRB or major charities. The Panel will not use information about external research income in a formulaic fashion.

Textual Commentary

3.50.18 The following sections provide a framework which may assist institutions in providing the textual parts of their submissions. Use of this structure will help the Panel to ensure all factors are properly taken into account in the assessment of submissions. It is not a checklist, and institutions are free to depart from it where this is necessary to give a coherent account of their research activity. The Panel takes no view about the relative priority of the indicators presented in RA5 and RA6 but looks to institutions to take this opportunity to explain their own priorities.


Research Structure and Environment

3.50.19 The place of history within the institutional structure. Where there is a substantial overlap with other panels, it will be helpful to list them.

3.50.20 The nature and quality of the research infrastructure, including computing facilities and facilities for research students.

3.50.21 The mechanisms and practices for promoting research and sustaining and developing an active research culture. In assessing the research culture of a department the Panel will take into account the following:

3.50.22 Conferences organised - national and international.

3.50.23 Future publishing plans, including books and articles which have been accepted but not yet published, or articles which are due to appear in major collaborative projects.

3.50.24 The place of history in institutional plans.

3.50.25 The arrangements for research leave.

3.50.26 Research clusters, where they exist. Provide details of who belongs to them (referring to RA1), their prime activities, how they operate and their main achievements.

3.50.27 Any significant research outputs not included in RA2.

3.50.28 Any notable library, archival or museum strengths in the institution and the manner in which these are maintained, developed and exploited. Evidence of collaborative research provision (e.g. through the Research Support Libraries Programme) would be helpful.

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

3.50.30 Information, where relevant on relationships with industry and commerce or other research users such as museums and other educational provision and, where appropriate, on the account taken of Government policy initiatives and objectives.

Staffing Policy

3.50.31 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.

3.50.32 The effects on departmental strength, coherence and research culture at the census date, when staff in categories A*, B and D have recently left the department.

Research Strategy

3.50.33 Provide a statement about the main objectives and activities in research over the next five years. This is the appropriate place to describe ongoing research work that is not producing immediate visible outcomes.

Self Assessment

3.50.34 Departments should provide a self-assessment which includes comments on plans and developments listed in RA6, 1996, significant structural or staff changes since 1996, and in particular anything which has altered the situation anticipated in 1996 whether for better or worse.


Evidence of Esteem

3.50.35 In assessing peer esteem the Panel will take into account editorial activities, membership of editorial boards, invitations to speak at conferences, bibliographic work and office-holding in professional bodies.

3.50.36 Indicators of peer esteem which relate to the staff submitted. The following indicators should be listed in the order given:

  1. Conferences addressed.
  2. Externally funded invitations to international meetings.
  3. Editorial work not appropriate for inclusion in RA2.
  4. International or national collaborations.
  5. Distinctions, fellowships and prizes awarded, distinguished positions held.
  6. Grants awarded and not noted elsewhere.
  7. Other indicators.

Individual Staff Circumstances

3.50.37 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, etc.).

3.50.38 Explain the contribution of any staff listed as Category C to the research activity of the department, and the provision made to support their research within the institution.

3.50.39 The Panel will take account of the career stage reached by members of staff when making its assessments. In the case of recently appointed staff with little experience as academic researchers evidence such as date of PhD completion, details of conferences addressed, and brief details of previous short-term appointments should be provided on RA6 for the Panel to consider. Staff within three years of the start of their first academic appointment at the census date will not necessarily be expected to have produced any published outputs. Institutions returning staff in this category as research active when they cite no publications will not be penalised in their quality weighting where the Panel is confident that there is a robust research culture into which such staff are fully integrated and adequate means for ensuring their development as researchers. Where such staff do submit publications, however, they will be assessed in the normal way.

Contributions by Non Research-active Staff

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

Working Methods

Assessment of Submissions

3.50.41 It is probable that the members of the panel will already have read a significant proportion of the cited works. In addition panel members will read selectively from the cited works and, where necessary, consult external advisers. The Panel collectively will examine in detail an absolute minimum of 50% of the output cited for every member of staff submitted and expects to read or have read almost all outputs cited. The Panel will ensure that in all cases, however small the number of individuals included in the submission, at least three members of the Panel are involved in examination of the submitted publications or other outputs.

3.50.42 Outputs will be assessed using a graduated scale which matches the criteria of international and national excellence. Where work does not embody the outputs of research within the RAE definition, it will not be awarded a grade. The panel will use an assessment of the work of individual researchers as the basis of its assessment method. In arriving at a grade for each researcher there will be no mathematical averaging: the grade will represent the level of achievement of the individual concerned.

3.50.43 Having examined the cited works, the Panel will consider the evidence presented in the other parts of the submission. All members will read each submission and participate fully in discussing and agreeing a final overall rating for each submission (with the exception of that from their own institution or one in which they have a declared interest).


3.50.44 Wherever possible the Panel will make its decisions by consensus. Where a consensus cannot be reached the Panel will vote, with the chair having a casting vote in the case of a tie.

International Excellence

3.50.45 In assessing whether work is of international or national excellence, the Panel will use its professional judgement. It will take account of the extent to which the work advances the subject, and increases understanding and knowledge. Consideration will be given to the originality, impact, depth, range, accuracy, clarity and likely lasting scholarly value of the work. Originality can be in the form of using new sources or in rethinking interpretation. Internationally excellent work will be outstanding in respect of almost all these qualities, nationally excellent work will be at least satisfactory in all these respects and may be outstanding in some. The Panel will assess the quality of the work, not its quantity. Internationally excellent work includes, for example, work which makes some original point in reshaping interpretations and approaches or opens up new forms of data or material. National excellence includes highly competent work within existing paradigms which does not necessarily alter interpretations, but which is a valuable addition to existing literature. 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.

3.50.46 The Panel will distinguish between marks of international esteem and the international excellence of the work assessed. Evidence of international esteem might include membership of international networks, the attraction of research students from abroad, or translation of research into another language.

Non-UK Based Experts

3.50.47 The Panel will consult a group of non-UK based experts before awarding the highest grades. Members of this group will receive all submissions which the Panel proposes to grade 5 or 5* plus a sample of those it proposes to grade 4. Where the non-UK based experts fail to confirm the Panel's decisions, the panel will reconsider its ratings in light of the advice received.

Last updated 17 April 2000

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