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Section III: Panelsí Criteria and Working Methods

3.60 Sport-related Subjects, UoA 69

UoA Descriptor and Boundaries

3.60.1 The description of the UoA includes; physical education, , sports nutrition, sport and exercise physiology, sport and exercise psychology, sport and exercise biomechanics, sociology of sport and leisure, leisure studies, exercise and health, sports medicine, motor skills, sport technology and engineering, philosophy of sport and leisure, sport management, history of sport and physical exercise, sport and leisure policy, leisure and recreation management, sport and leisure economics, sports law and pedagogic research in Higher Education in any of the above subjects. The Panel will use an inclusive interpretation of the areas listed, which incorporates different populations including disabilities, ethnicity, gender and age groups.

3.60.2 Where the Panel takes the view that it does not have sufficient expertise to judge part, or parts, of a submission it will cross-refer the whole submission to an appropriate panel or panels.


3.60.3 The Panel does not anticipate using sub-panels, but where necessary the Panel will use specialist advisers to cover areas contained in submissions that are not adequately covered by the Panel.

Interdisciplinary Research

3.60.4 This is a multidisciplinary UoA, as reflected in the Panel membership. The Panel has experience of undertaking and assessing interdisciplinary research. The Panel considers that its membership is sufficient to handle interdisciplinary research. Where it does not have sufficient expertise to judge an aspect of interdisciplinary research, it will cross-refer the submission to an appropriate panel or panels, or specialist advisers.

Joint Submissions

3.60.5 For Joint Submissions the evidence provided will be aggregated and the submission will be treated as a whole and not as separate parts. The textual part of the submission (RA5 and RA6) should be a joint one.

Treatment of Evidence

3.60.6 The quality of research will be judged by examining all the evidence together so that a complete picture is being considered rather than by aggregating discrete parts. The greatest weighting will be given to the quality of research displayed in the outputs listed in RA2. However, the vitality of the research culture will also be an important consideration.

3.60.7 Submissions will not be discriminated against by the number of researchers submitted. Attention is drawn to the fact that ratings are awarded to submissions rather than individuals.

Research Output (RA2)

3.60.8 Normally the Panel would expect to see four different research outputs listed against each researcher submitted. However high quality research can sometimes be demonstrated with less than four outputs, and some examples of reasons for this are given at 3.60.23.

3.60.9 An institution which includes multiple citations of the same publication may wish to comment on this in RA5.

3.60.10 In assessing the quality of research outputs, the Panel will consider a range of criteria, which includes; originality, contribution to advancing knowledge and understanding, impact on the discipline (and, where relevant, on policy and practice), scope or range of the work, methodological strength and scholarly rigour.

3.60.11 Works which have been through a rigorous editorial, refereeing or reviewing process will normally be regarded as equating to, at least, attainable levels of national excellence. However, judgements of individual works may be changed in the light of detailed review of those works. This will apply to all types of output.

3.60.12 For co-authored works the Panel will not consider order of authorship as a basis for making a judgement of relative contribution. The Panel does not consider co-authored works to be of higher or lower quality than single authored works.

Research Students and Research Studentships (RA3)

3.60.13 The number of postgraduate research students will be considered in relation to the FTE of research active staff submitted. The numbers will primarily be considered as evidence of the research culture.

3.60.14 The number of research degrees awarded will be considered in relation to the number of postgraduate research students. The numbers will primarily be considered as evidence of the research culture. Doctorates will be rated more highly than other research degrees.

3.60.15 A differentiation will be made regarding the source of studentships, in that those funded by external bodies will be given a higher weighting than those that are institutionally self-funded. Externally funded studentships will primarily be regarded as a measure of peer judgement of standing and of esteem by external sponsors. Internally funded studentships will primarily be regarded as a measure of institutional commitment to the research infrastructure.

External Research Income (RA4)

3.60.16 The amount of external research income and the average amount of research income per FTE research active staff submitted will be regarded as indicators of quality. No differentiation will be made automatically regarding the source of external research funding. However, in recognition that this indicator is more applicable to some disciplines within the unit of assessment than others, the amount and sources of external funding will be examined in the context of the discipline, the degree of competition for such awards, and the unit's research strategy as described in form RA5. Highly prestigious research grants can be identified in RA6.

Textual Commentary


3.60.17 The RA5 section should be arranged under the headings shown below, and provide the relevant information under these headings. The submission should provide a degree of critical self-assessment of the issues detailed in the textual commentary. Self-assessments should be positive, without being unrealistic or overlooking areas. The submission should indicate how any constraints or limitations will be addressed.

Research Structure and Environment

3.60.18 Under this heading the commentary should:

  1. Define research groups, who belongs to them (referring to RA1), their prime activities, how they operate and their main achievements,
  2. List other UoAs to which related work has been submitted and detail any difficulties of fit between departmental structure and the UoA framework;
  3. Explain the mechanisms and practices for promoting research and sustaining and developing an active and vital research culture;
  4. Describe the nature and quality of the research infrastructure, including facilities for research students;
  5. Describe any arrangements which are in place for supporting interdisciplinary or collaborative research;
  6. Provide information on relationships with industry and commerce or other research users and where appropriate on the account taken of Government policy initiatives and objectives.

Staffing Policy

3.60.19 Under this heading the commentary should:

  1. Describe the arrangements for the development and support of the research work of staff (including research assistants);
  2. Identify research potential. The inclusion of new researchers who are active but still maturing in terms of research performance will be viewed favourably within the wider context of the department's research activity, especially where there is evidence of an effective policy to support their development. Allowance for a lower quantity of output will be made;
  3. Where appropriate explain the role and contribution of category A* staff who have joined the department;
  4. Where appropriate, comment on 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;
  5. Where appropriate, comment on how staff employed on short-term contracts, or contracts with a very small FTE value, are integrated into the research strategy.

Research Strategy

3.60.20 Under this heading the commentary should:

  1. Provide a statement about the main objectives in research over the next five years. The Panel's attention should be drawn to ongoing research work that is not producing immediate visible outcomes;
  2. Include an evaluation of the research plans put forward in the 1996 RAE.


Indicators of Esteem

3.60.21 The RA6 section should list indicators of peer esteem which relate to the staff submitted. Esteem indicators will be used as a measure of peer judgement of the standing of individual researchers and/or research teams.

3.60.22 The following examples are illustrative but not exhaustive:

  1. Invitations to present keynote addresses to international conferences;
  2. Editorships of journals and/or book series;
  3. Appointment and/or election by peers to major committees;
  4. Any honours or awards given in recognition of research achievement;
  5. Major benefits-in-kind;
  6. Major collaborations with national or international partners;
  7. Research income.

Individual Staff Circumstances

3.60.23 Institutions may wish to explain why, in particular cases, fewer than four outputs have been cited in RA2. For example, staff who have:

  1. Been recently recruited and are only just beginning a research career;
  2. Taken career breaks or maternity leave;
  3. Had periods of sick leave.

Contributions by Non Research-active Staff

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

Working Methods

3.60.25 Every submission will be read by every Panel member, and all Panel members will be involved in making the decision about every submission, excluding those with which they have a declared interest. All Panel members will adhere to the published criteria and working methods.

3.60.26 The Panel collectively will examine in detail 50% of the research outputs cited in submissions, this will include a minimum of one item of research output cited for each researcher.

3.60.27 The Panel will initially include an assessment of the quality of the research output of each individual. The Panel will also take into account all other aspects of research activity submitted in coming to a final rating.

3.60.28 Quantitative measures that may be indicative of quality, (e.g. total value of external research income and number of research degrees awarded), will be considered in relation to the number of research active staff listed in submissions.

3.60.29 For the purposes of interpreting the rating scale, the Panel defines international excellence as research which should have an international impact, and is of equivalent quality to research in the most respected publications in the subject area world-wide. National excellence in research is work which is not of such widely recognised significance but is still well-researched, and, where appropriate, relevant to policy and practice.

3.60.30 To facilitate discussion, each submission will be assigned to a pair of Panel members who will produce an initial general appraisal of the complete submission. This will be backed by a practitioner on the Panel who will make a particular assessment of the policy and professional relevance of the work submitted, the research strategy and other inputs and outputs. In preparing this preliminary appraisal, advice may be sought from other Panel members where appropriate.

3.60.31 At meetings, one member of the pair will act as the lead speaker to introduce the submission to the other Panel members. After the discussion of the submission, each Panel member will produce an initial quality rating for the submission. The Panel will attempt to achieve a consensus for a particular rating. If a consensus is not achieved there will be a formal vote, and the provisional rating will be the rating that receives the highest number of votes.

3.60.32 At the last meeting of the Panel all submissions will be revisited, and the provisional quality ratings will be confirmed, or amended, as the final quality ratings by the same process as outlined above.

3.60.33 An international group of non-UK based experts will moderate the standard of 5 and 5* ratings, and a sample of 4 ratings.

Last updated 17 April 2000

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