Research

REF2014 History Sub-panel Report

In advance of the REF2021 process, the Royal Historical Society wishes to highlight the REF2014 History Sub-panel report to historians and departments. The report can be viewed and downloaded here.

 

REF2021 Draft Guidance & Criteria Consultation

Via REF2021:

“The UK’s four higher education funding bodies have published the draft guidance and criteria on making submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, for consultation.

The four bodies – the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council, the Department for the Economy, NI, and Research England – are seeking views from subject communities on the draft Panel criteria publication developed by the REF expert panels.

They are also calling for responses on key aspects of the Guidance on submissions publication, which they have developed with advice from the expert panels, including the equality and diversity, and interdisciplinary research advisory panels.

Consultation responses are invited from any higher education institution, association, organisation or individual with an interest in the conduct, quality, funding or use of research. Consultation responses should be submitted online at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/DTZ1O/ by 12 noon on 15 October 2018. Further information about the REF is available at www.ref.ac.uk.”

 

History Sub-Panel for REF 2021

REF 2021 is now gearing up with the appointment of the Main and Sub-Panels having taken place over 2017/18.   Professor Mark Jackson from Exeter University has been appointed Chair of the History Sub-Panel, with the support of the RHS.

Nominations for membership of the REF sub-panels were then sought from scholarly bodies. In contrast to previous exercises, societies were required to demonstrate that they had followed an open nomination process with an emphasis on equality and diversity. An unintended consequence of this requirement appears to have been that many smaller bodies that nominated directly to the previous REF chose not to do so, as they lacked the capacity to comply with the E and D requirements. Some smaller historical societies, for example, this time chose to forward nominations to the RHS.

 

RHS Nomination Process

On 7 November 2017, the Royal Historical Society issued a call for nominations to all Fellows. The call was posted on the RHS website, and circulated to members of Council, who were invited to disseminate it further, and specific, strong encouragement for nominations from among groups under-represented in REF2014. Self-nominations and those where nominator and nominee were employed by the same HEI, were excluded, but nominees were not required to be Fellows or Members of the RHS.

Recognising the need for a balance between continuity and new blood within the sub-panel, the RHS directly contacted members of the REF2014 sub-panel to ask if they would wish to be reconsidered for nomination. Our offer was not extended to those who had already served on more than one previous exercise, however.

After the nominations process closed, the nominations were reviewed by the President and the incoming and outgoing Vice Presidents for Research Policy (Jonathan Morris and Mary Vincent).

Adhering to a strict principle of including only one sub-panel nominee from each HEI, we compiled a set of nominations that reflected the major sub-fields in historical studies that we expect to see represented in final submissions to the panel.   In cases where we felt we lacked sufficient awareness of the field, we took advice from senior historians who were not among our nominees – usually past sub-panel members.   Altogether we submitted 40 nominations: 32 practising researchers to the History sub-panel, 3 to the Area Studies sub-panel and 1 to the Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management sub-panel; plus 4 assessors of the wider use and benefits of research to the History sub-panel.

We were particularly concerned to monitor for equality and diversity among our nominations, especially given that the REF2014 panel was all white, and included only one representative of a post-92 institution.   Of the 36 practising researcher nominations submitted by the RHS, 3 came from BAME backgrounds and 6 held positions in post ’92 institutions. 14 of the 40 were women, a somewhat disappointing proportion, but significantly higher than the c.21% within the UK history professoriate. 1 of our 4 impact assessor nominees was female, and we ensured a balance between London and non-London based nominees within this category.

 

Eventual Sub-panel Composition

At the end of February 2018, the first sets of appointments to the new REF sub-panels were announced. These were divided into two – an initial criteria-setting group who have begun meeting in 2018, and who will be joined in 2020 by a second set of already appointed output assessors.   A final set of sub-panellists will be appointed in 2020, following the declaration of submission intentions by UoAs, in order to align the panel’s capacity to review outputs and impact case studies to this.

18 History sub-panellists have so far been appointed – 8 for the criteria setting phase, 10 to be added as assessors in 2020. Of these 9 are female, 1 comes from a BAME background, and 1 works at a post-’92 institution.   9 were members of the REF 2014 sub-panel.   14 of the 18 sub-panellists received a nomination from the RHS.   3 RHS officers have been appointed to the sub-panel, including the President who will also serve as Deputy Chair of the panel. The appointed History sub-panellists are listed below.

Jonathan Morris
Vice President, Chair of Research Policy Committee

 

Criteria Phase
Prof. Mark Jackson (Exeter), Chair
Prof. Frances Andrews (St Andrews)
Prof. Margot Finn (UCL)
Prof. Matthew Hilton (QMUL)
Prof. Jonathan Morris (Hertfordshire)
Prof. Joy Porter (Hull), Interdisciplinary Adviser
Prof. Lyndal Roper (Oxford)
Prof. David Souden (British Museum)

Additions for Assessment Phase
Prof. Lynn Abrams (Glasgow)
Prof. Pratik Chakrabarti (Manchester)
Prof. Catherine Cubitt (East Anglia)
Prof. Michael Hughes (Lancaster)
Prof. Claire Langhamer (Sussex)
Prof. Paul Nugent (Edinburgh)
Prof. Phillipp Schofield (Aberystwyth)
Prof. Julian Swann (Birkbeck)
Prof. Mary Vincent (Sheffield)
Prof. Alex Walsham (Cambridge)

 

Call for Nominations to REF2021 History Sub-Panel

The Royal Historical Society has been invited by HEFCE to nominate sub-panel members for REF2021 and will be looking to put forward c.50 names before nominations close in December 2017.

This important process requires us to balance the number of nominees needed to cover particular sub-disciplinary areas with equality and diversity considerations and HEFCE’s intention to have c. a third of the sub-panel with previous REF panel experience with, correspondingly, at least c. a third new members.

It is vital that the History sub-panel reflects the range, institutional variety and expertise of our discipline (including an ability to assess research published in languages other than English), and that its membership commands the confidence of the profession.

To help achieve this goal, the RHS is inviting Fellows to contact us with the names and disciplinary areas of potential nominees. Suggestions for both full sub-panel members (responsible for assessing outputs, environments and impacts) and for impact reviewers who work outside the Higher Education sector will be welcome. In keeping with HEFCE’s wider nominating process, the Society will not consider either individual self-nominations or nominations made by a colleague at the nominee’s own university.

Prior to contacting the Society, Fellows are kindly requested to read carefully the HEFCE guidance on REF sub-panel membership, available here.

Note should be taken (1) of the very substantial time commitment required in a discipline in which output assessment is undertaken by qualitative reading, often of lengthy texts; and (2) that sub-panel membership typically entails both travel and periods of over-night accommodation away from sub-panel members’ home institutions.

Fellows should be aware that we expect to receive many more names than we will be able to nominate, reflecting the strength of History in the UK. Following HEFCE guidance on diversity and reaching out to under-represented groups, we strongly encourage nominations from those under-represented in REF2014 panels

All suggestions for potential sub-panel members should be sent to
rhsref2021@royalhistsoc.org, before 12:00 noon on Wednesday 22 November.

In suggesting names for the Society’s consideration, please include the following information, in the following order, in the body of your email:

1) Confirmation that you are currently a Fellow of the RHS (Y/N);

2) Full name of proposed REF sub-panel member;

3) Email address of proposed nominee;

4) Institutional address of proposed nominee;

5) URL of candidate’s individual page on institutional/professional website;

6) Field(s) of specialism of proposed nominee (region, chronology, sub-disciplinary area, and/or methodology, as appropriate);

7) Any known prior experience of peer-review in History (editorial experience, research council assessment boards, etc.)

 

Research Policy Committee

Mary Vincent, Outgoing Chair of Research Policy Commitee, writes:

The RHS has a key role in speaking for historians on policy issues and representing our views on issues affecting research, within both Higher Education and other research institutions. Our Research Policy Committee monitors these areas, liaising directly and regularly with other learned societies in History and the Humanities more broadly. We also maintain regular contact with the research and funding councils and with government, primarily to ensure that the views of historians are taken into account when designing and implementing research policy. A wider commitment to historical research, together with the impact agenda, means that we also look to the relationship between historical research, public bodies and cultural institutions, and wider society. Research Policy Committee, which I chair, brings together councillors and officers of the RHS, along with co-opted members from key organisations such as The National Archive. There is also an annual joint meeting of the Research Policy Committee and the Education Policy Committee, which provides an opportunity to discuss overlapping or related policy matters, for example: public history; school curricula and the ‘pipeline’ into historical study; postgraduate training. In addition to our monitoring and advocacy roles, we aim to provide the membership with information and guidance about policy changes that are likely to affect them.

Recent issues

Recently, the committee’s has been heavily engaged in responding to the REF agenda, submitting evidence to the Stern Review [add link] and submitting to the REF2021 consultation exercise [add link]. In both documents we stressed the importance of the monograph and the need for this to be properly accredited through differential weighting, our opposition to greater use of metrics—which simply cannot capture the quality of research in history—and the position of early career historians. We have emphasised the importance of equality and diversity, and we will remain actively involved in every stage of the preparations for REF2021 and consulted widely in preparing our submission to the consultation. Building on the Society’s 2015 Gender Report [add link], we continue to probe the issues around Equality and Diversity, both for REF and more widely. Other areas of work in recent years have been Freedom of Information legislation [add link], which is of utmost importance for research in contemporary history, and Open Access, where we have consistently expressed support for the principle – and taken steps to make its own publications OA [link to new Studies in History series?] — while seeking to ensure that historians are not disadvantaged by requirements shaped by the working practices of very different disciplines, mainly bio-medicine.

Research Policy Committee works closely with History Lab Plus—which is represented on the Committee—to ensure that the interests of Early Career Researchers and other historians working outside permanent academic posts are properly represented. In the very uncertain environment for Higher Education in the UK, this continues to be a key area of concern and we look forward to developing and maintaining the connection in the future.

Return to main Research Policy page

 

RHS Submission to REF 2020-21 Consultation

Following Lord Stern’s review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), HEFCE opened a consultation on REF2020-21, which closed on 17 March 2017. REF is of vital importance to the scholarly community and to history as a discipline and the consultation exercise has shown that its significance for our research culture is widely perceived. The Royal Historical Society has consulted History schools and departments across the country in preparing its submission to the consultation exercise, and has provided a considered response that evaluates the possible effects of measures such as full return of research staff and non-portability, seeks to support the position of Early Career Researchers, and makes a strong case for equality and diversity. Read the Society’s full response here.

 

Analysis of REF2014 Impact Case Studies

The RHS has undertaken an analysis of the Impact Case Studies submitted for History in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. A number of characteristics emerge from the analysis:

  • Impact Case Studies were overwhelmingly headed by male historians: over 70% of listed Principal Investigators were men. This gender divide was higher at Professorial level than at other career stages, reflecting the issues surrounding gender equality highlighted in the RHS Gender Report.
  • A diverse range of funding was used to support Impact Case Studies: while 31% listed support from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, nearly half did not list a specific source of external national funding.
  • While there were Impact Case Studies on many different geographical areas, the UK was by far the largest area of focus (58%), followed by Europe (15%).
  • Modern history was the main period focus (62%), with fewer centring on early modern (12%) or medieval history (6%).
  • Public engagement was the largest impact area (listed by 66% of projects); comparatively few case studies were focused on digital impact (listed by just 9%).

Our analysis is available here.