What is RAE?
The primary purpose of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) is to assess the research activity in universities and colleges throughout the UK.
A panel of experts assess the quality of research taking place across a number of subject areas or Units of Assessment (UoA), and create a quality profile for each university or college. The quality profile outlines the proportion of research in each area that is ‘world leading’ (4*), ‘internationally excellent’ (3*) or internationally (2*) or nationally (1*) recognised.
The RAE is conducted jointly by the four higher education funding bodies in the UK – the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland.
These funding bodies use the RAE results to determine the amount of money, or grants, they will allocate to each university or college to fund their research from 2009-10.
Why is RAE important?
The RAE is crucial to universities like Queen’s as it determines how much money they will receive for research in the future. Those with high-quality research receive a larger share of the funding. The 2001 RAE, which covered the academic years 2002-03 to 2008-09, saw £10.1 billion allocated according to the results.
Research grants fund much of the work that takes place at universities and create many jobs. Approximately £23 million of funding per year has been allocated to Queen’s by the Department for Employment and Learning as a result of the 2001 RAE. This guarantees almost 600 jobs per year at the University. External research income to the University since the last RAE has totalled £261 million.
What does a quality profile look like?
The RAE results provide an overall quality profile for each university, along with a separate quality profile for each Unit of Assessment.
The quality profile outlines the proportion of research activity that is world leading, internationally excellent, internationally or nationally recognised, or unclassified. The quality profile also shows the number of full-time equivalent staff whose work was submitted in each Unit of Assessment.
Queen’s submitted 38 UoAs for RAE 2008.
In January 2009, a more detailed breakdown of each quality profile will be made available.
Sample RAE Quality Profile:
|By percentage of research|
activity in the submission judged
to reach quality standard
What is the history of the RAE?
The first RAE was undertaken in 1986. For the first time, it introduced an explicit and formalised assessment process of the quality of research at UK universities and colleges. Further RAE’s in 1989, 1992, 1996 and 2001 became more transparent and comprehensive.
In 2001 the UK funding bodies commissioned a review to consider how to assess research in the future. As a result, the 2008 RAE process was different to that used in 2001:
Is it possible to draw comparisons between 2001 and 2008 performance?
No. The RAE 2008 profile is significantly different to that used in 2001. Therefore no direct comparisons can be made. Instead of being awarded a one-off overall score in each Unit of Assessment (UoA), as in 2001, each university will be given a graded rating for each Unit of Assessment, outlining what percentage of the research activity in that Unit falls into each quality level.
What is classified as a 'good' performance?
As the results are presented as a graded profile, it is difficult to define a ‘good’ profile.
Alongside the results RAE will also provide an overview of the range of results in each Unit of Assessment (UoA) i.e. the highest and lowest percentage of research activity across all universities that fell into each quality profile. This will allow each university to see where they sit within the range of scores awarded.
Does the RAE assess all the research at a university?
The RAE consists of 67 Units of Assessment (UoA). A Unit of Assessment is a subject area in which a university or college can submit research for assessment. A university or college can enter as many or as few UoAs as they please. Queen’s entered submissions for 38 UoAs, involving research by around 800 (84 per cent) of the University’s academic staff.
Who assesses the research?
67 sub-panels of experts, one for each Unit of Assessment, assess the submissions from each university or college for that particular UOA. These panels work under the guidance of 15 main panels.
Panel members are appointed by the UK funding bodies. There are over 1,000 panel members. They are chosen for their standing in the academic and wider research community, their extensive research experience, and their understanding of the needs of research users and commissioners of research from both the public and commercial sectors.
What do the panels consider when making their assessment?
Each assessment panel considers evidence submitted according to a set of criteria, which are common across all Units of Assessment. The criteria include the following:
What are the Units of Assessment?
The 67 Units of Assessment, and the 15 main panels they fall under, are as follows.
1. Cardiovascular Medicine
6. Epidemiology and Public Health
11. Nursing and Midwifery
12. Allied Health Professions and Studies
|D||14. Biological Sciences|
15. Pre-clinical and Human Biological Sciences
16. Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science
|E||17. Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences|
|F||20. Pure Mathematics|
21. Applied Mathematics
22. Statistics and Operational Research
23. Computer Science and Informatics
|G||24. Electrical and Electronic Engineering|
25. General Engineering and Mineral & Mining Engineering
26. Chemical Engineering
27. Civil Engineering
28. Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
29. Metallurgy and Materials
|H||30. Architecture and the Built Environment|
31. Town and Country Planning
32. Geography and Environmental Studies
|I||34. Economics and Econometrics|
35. Accounting and Finance
36. Business and Management Studies
37. Library and Information Management
39. Politics and International Studies
40. Social Work and Social Policy & Administration
43. Development Studies
46. Sports-Related Studies
|L||47. American Studies and Anglophone Area Studies|
48. Middle Eastern and African Studies
49. Asian Studies
50. European Studies
|M||51. Russian, Slavonic and East European Languages|
53. German, Dutch and Scandinavian Languages
55. Iberian and Latin American Languages
56. Celtic Studies
57. English Language and Literature
59. Classics, Ancient History, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies
|O||63. Art and Design|
64. History of Art, Architecture and Design
65. Drama, Dance and Performing Arts
66. Communication, Cultural and Media Studies
For which Units of Assessment did Queen’s provide submissions?