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Guidance to panels

January 2005

Ref RAE 01/2005

To: Main panel chairs and members; sub-panel chairs and members
Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of HEFCW-funded higher education institutions
Heads of SHEFC-funded higher education institutions
Heads of universities in Northern Ireland
Of interest to those responsible for: Research assessment, Research policy, Planning
Reference: RAE 01/2005
Publication date: January 2005
Enquiries to Ed Hughes, Davina Madden or Josie Linton
tel 0117 931 7267

Executive summary


1.    This document guides and instructs the main panels and sub-panels of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) on developing their assessment criteria and working methods for RAE 2008 and on their assessment of submissions. It also provides general information to higher education institutions on RAE 2008, including on criteria setting and assessment processes.

Key points

2.    We will publish in 2005 two documents that will comprise the main guidance to institutions in preparing their RAE 2008 submissions: 'Guidance on submissions' in the summer, and 'Panel statements of criteria and working methods' by the end of the year. A summary of the RAE 2008 process is at paragraphs 26 and 27. The timetable for RAE 2008 is at Annex E.

3.    RAE 2008 is underpinned by a number of important principles. These are described in paragraphs 14-25, and include:

  1. Recognising the primacy of expert review as upheld in consultations following Sir Gareth Roberts' Research Assessment review. Expert panels will use their professional judgement to assess RAE submissions, supported by a range of quantitative indicators, as appropriate. International panel members will assist this expert review by validating the standing of research considered to be of the highest quality worldwide.

  2. Developing an assessment process which operates neutrally without distorting the activity that it measures and neither encourages nor discourages any particular type of activity or behaviour other than providing a stimulus to the improvement of research quality overall.

  3. Ensuring that appropriate measures of excellence are developed which are sufficiently wide as to capture all types of research, including practice-based research, applied research, basic/strategic research, interdisciplinary research. Where possible users and commissioners of research will be involved in the assessment process to provide an external perspective on the range of research under consideration.

  4. Assessing the sustainability and vitality of the research described in each submission, including the contributions to research excellence of less experienced researchers alongside more experienced colleagues.

  5. Maximising efficiency in terms of the cost expended on participating in and running the exercise being proportionate to the potential returns.

Action required

4.    This document is for information and guidance to main panel members and sub-panel members of RAE 2008. No action is required by higher education institutions.