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Section III: Panelsí Criteria and Working Methods

3.51 History of Art, Architecture and Design, UoA 60

UoA Descriptor and Boundaries

3.51.1 The UoA includes history of art, architecture, and design, in the widest chronological and geographical framework; theory and aesthetics of the visual arts; museology, museum studies, and conservation; history of film, photography, and visual media; together with works in cognate fields such as cultural and gender studies, archaeology, and anthropology, where these relate to, or are grouped with, study of the visual arts.

3.51.2 Historiographic and pedagogic research are embraced within this descriptor. Research into teaching and learning in the history of art, architecture and design should be directed, or may be cross-referred, to the Education Panel where the concern is with the mode of delivery, but the Panel for UoA 60 will assess pedagogical research which is concerned primarily with the subject field defined above.

3.51.3 Where research activity submitted to UoA 60 under RA2 falls outside the areas defined above, it will be cross-referred to other UoA Panels as appropriate. In such cases, assessment will still relate to the criteria and definitions of research excellence of UoA 60.


3.51.4 There will be no Sub-panels for UoA 60.

3.51.5 However, specialist advice will be sought in the area of conservation, and, if necessary, in other areas and on forms of output such as electronic research outputs.

Interdisciplinary Research

3.51.6 The Panel recognises and welcomes the interdisciplinary nature of much work which falls within UoA 60.

Joint Submissions

3.51.7 Joint submissions will be assessed in the same way as those for individual HEIs. However, in such cases the Panel will expect RA5 to provide a rationale for the joint submission, giving evidence of the research cultures of both collaborating groups.

Treatment of Evidence

3.51.8 The Panel will consider the quality of research presented in each submission as a whole.

3.51.9 The research outputs submitted under RA2 will be accorded primary importance in assessments. Final ratings will, nevertheless, be arrived at on the basis of a review of all the data provided in submissions, including the contextual information in RA5 and RA6.

3.51.10 While the Panel will be able to refer to extensive statistical analyses of various aspects of submissions provided by the RAE Team, it will not adopt a mechanistic approach in determining final ratings.

3.51.11 The number of active researchers within a submission will not in itself be accounted as a factor in assessment. Notions of 'critical mass' are not operative in relation to UoA 60.

Research Output (RA2)

3.51.12 Research outputs submitted under RA2 may be in the form of publications of various kinds, such as books, chapters in books, articles, exhibition catalogues etc. No a priori evaluative distinctions will be made between these forms of publication, all of which will be graded in the light of their research quality.

3.51.13 Electronic publications will be given the same status as printed works.

3.51.14 Curatorship of exhibitions or of museum/gallery displays (as distinct from and, where appropriate, additional to the authorship of publications associated with them) is also admitted as a form of research output under RA2. A brief description of the curatorship should be given in the 'Other relevant details' field of RA2. A dossier of documentation should also be made available on request. The purpose of this documentation is to provide the Panel with evidence of the research content of the curatorship in question, and to enable the Panel to form a judgement on it, in relation to the criteria of research quality for UoA 60. The documentation should include a statement by the named researcher, explaining the concept and modes of realization of the exhibition or display cited, and elucidating his or her role in connection with it, together with appropriate supporting material, which may be both textual and visual. The opening date of the exhibition, or date of installation of the display, determines its admissibility within the review period for RAE 2001.

3.51.15 When works of art and design are submitted as research outputs under RA2, they will normally be cross-referred to UoA 64. Works of architecture and architectural designs may be cross-referred to UoA 33.

3.51.16 The Panel collectively will examine in detail as many research outputs as necessary which in any event will not be less than two thirds of the research work submitted by each HEI under RA2.

3.51.17 Since the Panel thus intends to examine research outputs comprehensively rather than selectively, the status or refereeing procedures of particular publishers or journals are not a material factor in the process of assessment. Judgements will be reached on the basis of the research quality of the actual work, not of assumptions relative to the reputations of publishers, journals, or (in the case of exhibitions and displays) of venues.

Research Students and Research Studentships (RA3)

3.51.18 Research students and research studentships form an important source of evidence of the research ethos of institutions, which will, however, be judged as part of a review of the whole submission, rather than on a mechanistic basis.

3.51.19 In appraising the data provided under RA3A, the Panel will attach significance to rates of successful completion of research degrees, relative to the numbers of research-active staff and the number of registrations for such degrees.

3.51.20 In appraising the data provided under RA3B , the Panel will not make evaluative distinctions between different sources of studentships.

External Research Income (RA4)

3.51.21 As in the case of research students and studentships, data on external research income will be reviewed as a part of a whole submission, not on a mechanistic basis.

3.51.22 No evaluative distinctions will be made between different types and sources of research income.

3.51.23 However, the Panel invites HEIs to provide in RA5 and/or RA6 an explanation of the nature of any major award, and where possible a brief summary of the uses to which it has been or will be put, in order to judge the contribution it makes to the research quality and ethos of the HEI in question.

Textual Commentary: General Comments

3.51.24 The primary purpose of RA5 and RA6 is to provide evidence of the sustained development, productivity, and status of the research culture of HEIs within UoA 60.

3.51.25 In order to bring contextual factors fully into play in the rating of submissions, and to ensure that all information is taken into account, the Panel requires RA5 to be ordered in a clear structure under the headings listed below. This ordering is also intended to facilitate the element of self-assessment embodied in RA5 and RA6.

3.51.26 The Panel indicates below the kind of information which may be included under these headings, but such information will naturally reflect the characters, priorities, and particular achievements of the HEIs concerned. In all cases it will be helpful if the information provided in RA5 and RA6 is set out clearly under appropriate sub-headings, and is as precise as possible.

3.51.27 In appraising HEIs' self-assessments, the Panel will have particular regard to the review provided in RA5 (b) and the evidence of peer esteem provided in RA6.


3.51.28 RA5 should comprise information ordered under the following headings:

  1. Commentary on RA1-RA4. This may include e.g. information on where researchers who have been included in the submission to UoA 60 are located within the institutional structure; on arrangements for the promotion and support of research, including the award of studentships; on important research grants; on staff movements, including comment on the contributions of researchers in the categories A*,B and D where appropriate etc.
  2. Review of the Research Activities and Progress of the Group within the Review Period. This section of the submission, together with RA6, provides scope for a degree of self-assessment. The review may include e.g. reflections and comment on the research ethos and on areas of common strength and interest. It may also include information on matters such as the following: the progress of long-term projects which have not yet reached fruition; major publications not included in RA2; the establishment of research centres and archives; the award of higher degrees to staff; curatorships and research partnerships with museums, art galleries and other institutions; editorships of whatever kind; activities as a reader for publishers or referee for journals; conferences organised and conference papers delivered; the appointment of research assistants and fellows; provision and support for postgraduate students etc. In providing these details, reference may be made to research plans outlined in 1996 RAE submissions.
  3. Aims, Plans and Strategies for the Future Development of Research. This statement may refer back as appropriate to matters raised under (b). It may include an outline of staffing policy and plans, and reference to works in progress for publication, providing information as precise as possible about the stage of advancement of the latter.


3.51.29 RA6 provides evidence of research status, peer esteem and recognition. This may include e.g. information on appointments to learned and advisory bodies and to editorial boards; consultancies; awards to individuals, to groups, or to the institution; invitations to speak at prestigious conferences and symposia etc.

Individual Staff Circumstances.

3.51.30 HEIs may provide confidential information on the circumstances of individual researchers which have affected their contributions to the submission, such as the youth or early career stage of such researchers, or e.g. periods of sick leave, career breaks, secondments, engagement on long-term projects etc.

Contributions by Non Research-active Staff

3.51.31 HEI's may if they wish provide information about contributions to the research culture by staff in categories A and A* not returned as research active.

Working Methods

3.51.32 Members of the Panel will be deployed in variable pairings to read and grade submissions under RA2. These pairs of panellists will also be responsible for noting formally, and drawing to the attention of the full Panel, any information in RA1 and RA3-RA6 which should particularly be considered in arriving at a final rating for the submission in question.

3.51.33 The full Panel will determine final ratings on this basis, including the detailed examination of research outputs as described. All panellists will in particular review the contextual information provided by HEIs in RA5 and RA6. If agreement cannot be reached the Panel will vote on the rating.

3.51.34 Decisions will be reached through discussions involving the full Panel. In cases of uncertainty, further readings and consultations between members of the Panel will take place until agreement is reached.

The assessment of RA2

3.51.35 In assessing the research outputs listed under RA2, the Panel will adopt a finely graduated alphabetic marking scale, which is intended to measure degrees of research quality.

3.51.36 It is expected that the works submitted for each researcher will be those which best represent, and most fully display, the quality of his or her work.

3.51.37 There is no automatic penalty for the submission of fewer than four items of research output; each case will be looked at on its own merits, and information on the personal circumstances of individual researchers will be taken into account.

3.51.38 In arriving at an overall grade for each individual researcher, there will be no mechanical averaging of grades awarded for each of the items. The overall grade will register the level of achievement of the individual concerned.

3.51.39 When the overall grade for each individual researcher has been awarded through the working methods described above, the grades for the work of individual researchers will be translated into an overall provisional grade for the whole submission under RA2. In this process the work of each researcher will normally carry equal weight. HEIs should be aware of the impact of this methodology in making their decisions as to which active researchers they wish to include in their submissions.

3.51.40 Only when the whole of each submission has been considered and appraised will the Panel's judgements, including the grading of RA2, and the determination of the proportions of researchers deemed to have attained standards of international excellence and national excellence, be finalised and translated into a point on the RAE rating scale.

Definition of Research Achievements and Interpretation of the Rating Scale

3.51.41 The placing of submissions within the rating scale will express the Panel's view of their levels of achievement against its definition of research quality.

3.51.42 Research will be evaluated on the basis of the contribution that it is judged to make to new knowledge and understanding and/or to original thought.

3.51.43 'International excellence' is defined as a quality of research which makes an intellectually outstanding contribution in either or both of these respects. The definition has no connection with the subject matter of the research in question , which may be of any kind within the UoA boundaries defined above.

3.51.44 'National excellence' is defined as a quality of research which makes an intellectually substantial contribution to new knowledge and understanding and/or to original thought.

Non-UK Based Experts.

3.51.45 Four recognised experts based at research centres or universities other than those in the U.K., and representing as far as possible a range of appropriate specialisms and experience, will be nominated by the Panel. Their role is to review and comment on the judgements of the Panel in its rating of submissions, giving particular attention to the confirmation of international excellence. For this purpose they will be informed of the Panel's criteria and working methods at an early stage of the RAE process. The advice of these experts will be fully discussed. Final responsibility for ratings rests, however, with the Panel.

Last updated 17 April 2000

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