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REF 2014 highlights world-leading quality of UK arts and humanities research

Date: 27/03/2015

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 demonstrated the world-leading quality of the UK's arts and humanities research. The AHRC has been using information from the REF submissions and impact case studies alongside its own evidence base, to explore the role of our funding in delivering excellent research with impact.

Research Outputs

A diverse range of output types were submitted to the REF2014 Units of Assessment (UoA) covering the arts and humanities (all the sub-panels in Main Panel D and three UoAs in Main Panel C). These included authored books, edited books, chapters in books, scholarly editions, journal articles, performances, designs and other formats. The AHRC has been comparing just two of these types – journal articles with DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) and books with ISBNs (monographs, edited collections and scholarly editions), across all Main Panels, with the AHRC's data from Researchfish, the Research Councils' research outcomes capture tool. From this initial assessment we have identified over 2,000 research outputs underpinned by AHRC funding. Given that Researchfish is at present far from comprehensive and that preliminary analysis only covers two types of output out of many more1, the actual figure is likely to be considerably higher.

AHRC funded research outputs were submitted to 28 of the 36 UoA's across all four Main Panels.

Main Panel A:

  • Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience  (UoA4)

Main Panel B:

  • Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (UoA7)
  • Chemistry (UoA8)
  • Mathematical Science (UoA10)
  • Computer Science and Informatics (UoA11)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering (UoA13)
  • Civil and Construction Engineering (UoA14)
  • General Engineering (UoA15)

Main Panel C:

  • Architecture, Built Environment and Planning (UoA16)
  • Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology (UoA17)
  • Business and Management Studies (UoA19)
  • Law (UoA20)
  • Politics and International Studies (UoA21)
  • Social Work and Social Policy (UoA22)
  • Sociology (UoA23)
  • Anthropology and Development Studies (UoA24)
  • Education (UoA25)
  • Sport and Exercise Studies, Leisure and Tourism (UoA26).

Main Panel D:

  • Area Studies (UoA27)
  • Modern Languages and Linguistics (UoA28)
  • English Language and Literature (UoA29)
  • History (UoA30)
  • Classics (UoA31)
  • Philosophy (UoA32)
  • Theology and Religious Studies (UoA33)
  • Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory (UoA34)
  • Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts (UoA35)
  • Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information (UoA36).

Impact Case Studies

Analysis of the 2,215 impact case studies submitted to arts and humanities UoAs reveals that approximately 30% of the case studies were underpinned by research funded by the AHRC and its predecessor, the AHRB. In some sub-panels this percentage was even higher:

  • Modern Languages and Linguistics (UoA28; 34%)
  • English Language and Literature (UoA29; 36.5%)
  • History (UoA30; 39%)
  • Classics (UoA31; 44%)
  • Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory (UoA34; 37%)
  • Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts (UoA35; 46%)
  • Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information (UoA36; 41%)

The case studies demonstrate the diversity of the arts and humanities landscape with evidence of multiple Research Council support (including cross-Council awards), as well as joint, parallel or consecutive support from other funders and partners, such as the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Wellcome Trust etc., other charities, business and public sector organisations . Distinctive groupings of case studies within and across arts and humanities sub-panel impact case studies highlight the impact of research in the following areas:

  • Community cohesion and engagement
  • Creative sector
  • Culture and heritage
  • Digital technologies
  • Engagement with business
  • Environmental issues
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Influence on practice and practitioners
  • Museums and collections
  • Policy influence
  • Stimulation of public debate
  • Supporting education
  • Tourism and the visitor experience

Professor Mark Llewellyn, Director of Research at the AHRC, said: The REF 2014 materials are a good source of information on the research and impact delivered by researchers in the arts and humanities. We are working with our research community to update and develop a selection of case studies for our own website for publication later this year. Given the REF represents only a snapshot of the publications, impacts and activities our researchers undertake we won't limit our understanding to these materials. They provide pointers to the richness of the arts and humanities within the UK but we also know there is so much more. In partnership with our research and user communities, and through resources such as Researchfish, the AHRC has some excellent materials that build on what is already an excellent case for the full range, diversity and significance of what our researchers do.

1NB. The journal output submissions to Panel D revealed that a significant proportion (approx. 40%) did not have DOIs; this, alongside the variation in ISBN usage (e.g. hardback or paperback versions) will also have contributed to this underreporting.

For further information contact Philip Pothen: 01793 41 6022 or p.pothen@ahrc.ac.uk.

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