REF analysis: looking beyond boundaries

January 22, 2015

We would like to provide amendments to Adam Crawford’s analysis of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Impact Acceleration Account awards and research excellence framework outcomes (“REF analysis highlights ESRC’s ineffective allocation, says scholar”, News, 8 January).

Professor Crawford suggests that several universities, including Bangor University, underperformed in the REF relative to their IAA block allocation. Professor Crawford’s analysis, however, made an invalid assumption about Bangor’s IAA award that undermines his conclusions. The IAA was awarded to accelerate social science research wherever it may be within the organisation. Bangor has considerable success in winning ESRC funding for research that spans many disciplines. As a consequence, most of Bangor’s social science research was not submitted to one main panel (panel C); in fact, Bangor’s social science research was submitted to six units of assessment, only one of which was considered by main panel C. The majority of Bangor’s ESRC-funded research was submitted to: 3) allied health professions, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy; 4) psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience; 6) agriculture, veterinary and food science; 7) earth systems and environmental sciences; and 28) modern languages and linguistics. Reference to the REF results in Times Higher Education (“Check your coordinates”, Features, 18/25 December) shows the quality of outputs and impact at Bangor in these submissions.

None of these units was considered by main panel C and they were not included in Professor Crawford’s analysis, which brings his conclusions into question. Indeed, there is a high degree of correlation between Bangor’s strong performance in social science and our impressive REF assessments for outputs and impact.

David Shepherd
Deputy vice-chancellor for research and enterprise

Jo Rycroft-Malone
Professor of implementation and health services research
Bangor University

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