The research assessment exercise operates through a process of peer review.
Some 60 panels comprised of about a dozen academics and representatives from industry and organisations such as the National Health Service assessed the quality of work submitted to the 68 discipline-based units of assessment this year.
There were four joint panels covering pre-clinical studies, anatomy, physiology and pharmacology. Nearly half of the panels established sub-panels to advise on the assessment of research in particular sub-areas within the subject.
Panels also had the option of calling on the advice of external specialists. All panels consulted overseas experts to confirm that work was internationally excellent.
The panel chairs were nominated by members of the 1996 panels; panel members were nominated by organisations, including research institutions, learned societies, professional bodies and industrial and business users of the research.
Each panel drew up a statement describing its working methods and assessment criteria that was published before any work was submitted for assessment.
Each university or college chose which units of assessment it would enter, who it would submit and which pieces of work would be presented. For each member of research staff, up to four pieces of work could be listed. Panels were concerned only with the quality of the research and not with the form it took - whether a book or a performance - and whether it was applied or basic research.
The panels reviewed all the relevant submissions and read selectively from the research outputs cited to come to their conclusions.
* More than 3,200 nominations for panel membership were received from more than 400 bodies
* Some 685 panel members were appointed
* The panels assessed 2,662 submissions, covering the work of more than 48,000 full-time equivalent staff
* The 2001 RAE is the fifth, previous exercises having been done in 1986, 1989, 1992 and 1996.
RAE 2001 league tables