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Another UoA

Section III: Panelsí Criteria and Working Methods

3.53 Philosophy, UoA 62

UoA Boundaries

3.53.1 The Panel regards as falling within its remit all areas of, styles of and approaches to Philosophy including, among others:

History of Philosophy including Ancient, Medieval, Modern and Recent; Metaphysics; Epistemology; Logic; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Mind; Philosophy of Language; Philosophy of Religion; 19th and 20th Century European Philosophy including Phenomenology, Existentialism, Critical Theory, Hermeneutics and Deconstruction; Ethics including Applied Ethics; Political and Social Philosophy; Applied Philosophy; Feminist Philosophy; Aesthetics; Teaching Philosophy.

3.53.2 The Panel will assess submissions which span the boundary between two or more UoAs by joint consultation with other relevant Panels.


3.53.3 Collectively the Panel will be able to comment on all areas and styles of Philosophy falling within its remit. It does not intend to form sub-panels.

Interdisciplinary Research

3.53.4 The Panel will assess all interdisciplinary work in conjunction with other relevant Panels and will pay full attention to the interdisciplinary nature of the work in the context of the submission.

Joint Submissions

3.53.5 Joint submissions will be treated in the same way as single institution submissions.

Treatment of Evidence

3.53.6 The Panel will base its assessment of a department primarily on its professionally informed judgement of the quality of the research activity of each of the individual members of staff of that department. This judgement will be based primarily on the quality of the cited research outputs but in arriving at its judgement the Panel will also take account of research activities as specified in the other sections of the return. Each individual full-time member of staff in categories A and A* will be assigned equal weight in his or her contribution to the rating of the department; the weighting of other members in categories A and A*, as well as of members in other categories, will be judged on the basis of the extent and nature of their contributions to the research activity of the department. The size of a department will not be regarded as an indicator of research quality. Departments should explain the precise relationship to the department of category C staff entered. The Panel will be looking for evidence that category C staff are genuinely involved in the departmental research culture.

3.53.7 The Panel will expect that some work will be cited for each individual listed in RA1. However, it recognises that less established members of staff (for example those new to academic careers within the research assessment period) may well have an output which is significantly less than what would reasonably be expected of a more experienced researcher. Where departments have a policy of bringing on promising new researchers, the Panel would welcome information relevant to this in forms RA5 and RA6.

3.53.8 In arriving at the judgement of the whole department the assessment of the quality of the individual research activities will be supplemented by the information contained in the following aspects of the submissions in the following order of importance:

  1. Research Plans and General Observations (RA5 and RA6)
  2. Research Students and Studentships (RA3a and RA3b)
  3. External Research Income (RA4)

3.53.9 The information provided in forms RA3 and RA4 will be particularly relevant in deciding upon borderline submissions.

Research Output (RA2)

3.53.10 The Panel expects to receive research output in published form whether in hard copy or electronic format.

3.53.11 The Panel collectively will examine in detail virtually all of the items of research output cited in submissions.

3.53.12 In assessing the quality of the research output cited the Panel will judge the extent to which it contributes to research. Research outputs will be assessed in terms of their originality, contribution to knowledge and understanding, impact on the discipline and scholarly rigour. This will apply to research in all aspects of philosophy.

3.53.13 The Panel will view the degree to which cited works have been subject to rigorous editorial or refereeing processes as an indicator of quality; but outputs not already subject to a review or refereeing process will not automatically be regarded as of lesser quality.

3.53.14 The Panel recognises that there are many different forms in which an individual's research is published (for example, books, articles in journals, chapters in books, conference proceedings, substantial book reviews, scholarly editions, entries in philosophical dictionaries and encyclopaedias, and introductions to edited collections). It also recognises that there may be certain circumstances in which fewer than four submitted items would not necessarily be a disadvantage. Such circumstances should be outlined in RA5 and RA6.

Research Students and Research Studentships (RA3)

3.53.15 The Panel will regard the number of studentships awarded on a competitive basis as an indicator of the quality of research activity. Since research students tend to gravitate towards larger departments, the Panel will pay attention to the ratio of research students to numbers of staff as well as to the number of research students in a department. A relatively high ratio will be regarded as evidence of high external evaluation of research quality.

3.53.16 The Panel will be impressed by the ratio of students to staff where the students hold competitive awards. Where these are not clearly identified on RA3a, additional information may be given on RA6.

External Research Income (RA4)

3.53.17 The Panel will give credit to departments which have generated external research funding as listed on RA4 but it is aware that such funding is more readily available in some areas of philosophical research than in others. Information about significant amounts of research funding awarded to individual members of staff should be mentioned on RA6. The Panel will be interested in details of the research outcome of research income.

Textual Commentary

3.53.18 The Panel recognises that most philosophers work as individuals and not in research groups. However, any existing research groups, whether formal or informal, may be defined.


Information is requested on the following:

Research Structure and Environment

3.53.19 The mechanisms and practices for promoting research and sustaining and developing an active and vital research culture, including such matters as arrangements for sabbatical leave and allocation of staff time.

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

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

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

Staffing Policy

3.53.23 Arrangements for the development and support of the research work of staff.

3.53.24 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.

3.53.25 The role and contribution of Category A* staff who have joined the department and of the staff listed in categories C and D.

3.53.26 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.

Research Strategy

3.53.27 The main objectives and planned activities in research over the next five years, in particular, any ongoing research work that is not producing immediate, visible outcomes. Well defined objectives will be viewed as more impressive than general statements of intent.

Self Assessment

3.53.28 Departments are invited to provide a self-assessment (without a rating) of their performance against the staffing policies, research structures and strategies in place during the assessment period either as outlined in the 1996 RA5 (which will be available to the Panel) or as modified in the light of changing circumstances.


Evidence of Esteem

3.53.29 Departments are invited to describe research relevant activities and give indicators of peer esteem associated with particular individuals where appropriate. Such activities might include conference organisation, international collaboration, manuscript/book reviewing, journal/book editing, prestigious prizes and awards, invitations to give keynote addresses and addresses at plenary sessions of major conferences.

Individual Staff Circumstances

3.53.30 Departments are invited to mention circumstances which may have affected the number of items cited by any individual, or which for other reasons they may wish the Panel to take account of. These include the substantial character of cited items, an individual's juniority in the profession, an individual's editorial activities, periods of sick leave, career breaks, engagement on long term projects etc.

Contributions by Non Research-active Staff

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

Working Methods

3.53.32 Each submission will be reviewed by all members of the Panel and discussed collectively by the Panel. The Panel will base its assessment on its collective reading of the research outputs cited in the submission. The Panel will ensure that at least two members have examined in detail virtually all of the research outputs cited for each individual researcher.

3.53.33 Each submission will be assigned to a Panel member who will have primary responsibility for assessing the research output cited. A second Panel member will be assigned to give a supporting opinion on the submission. In addition to this, all Panel members will read as widely as possible from the research output cited, particularly in the areas which they regard as their specialisms.

3.53.34 Two members of the Panel will lead discussion on the work of each department, and their judgement will be supplemented by that of other Panel members, particularly those with specialist expertise in the work being assessed. The eventual assessment will be that of the Panel and not that of the two 'lead' members.

3.53.35 The Panel will discuss each submission in detail and, where possible, reach a consensus on the rating to be assigned. It is anticipated that submissions will be discussed at several meetings and re-reading will be carried out if and as necessary. If no consensus can be reached then a rating will be decided by vote. In the event of a split vote, the Chair will have the casting vote.

3.53.36 The rating points will be interpreted as defined in the Notes attached to the Rating Scale and Descriptions in the RAE Guidance on Submissions.

3.53.37 International excellence will be defined as 'work which is or ought to be a primary point of reference in its field, ie a contribution of whose general theme every serious worker in the field is or ought to be aware'. National excellence will be defined as research output which is of a less high standard but which contributes in a significant way to knowledge and understanding in its field.

3.53.38 A group of non-UK based experts will be consulted. The Panel's assessment of 5 and 5* rated departments as well as a sample of 4 rated departments will be sent to non-UK based experts for moderation.

Last updated 17 April 2000

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