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 RA Review home > Meetings > Steering Group Meetings

Steering Group Meeting

Thursday 31 October from 10.30am
Centre Point, London


ChairSir Gareth RobertsWolfson College, Oxford
 Sir Leszek BorysiewiczImperial College
Professor Vicki BruceUniversity of Edinburgh
Professor David EastwoodUniversity of East Anglia
Professor Roderick FloudLondon Metropolitan University
Professor Georgina FollettDundee University
Dr John KempEVOTEC NeuroSciences GmbH
Professor Teresa ReesUniversity of Cardiff
Mr Phil RufflesRolls Royce plc
Sir David WatsonUniversity of Brighton
ObserverPatricia AmbroseSCOP
ObserverRichard HancockSHEFC
ObserverAnn HughesHEFCW
ObserverDavid McAuleyDEL NI
ObserverRama ThirunamachandranHEFCE
ObserverLinda ThriftUUK
Technical Review TeamDr Siân ThomasHEFCE
SecretariatVanessa ConteHEFCE
Will NaylorHEFCE


Welcome and introductions

1   Apologies were received from Fabian Monds and Alan Jackson. Members introduced themselves to the group and biographies were made available. The chair confirmed that Sir Paul Nurse had agreed to join the group.

Introduction to the review

2   The chair gave a brief introduction to the review and stressed the groupís remit was the review of research assessment and urged members to refer to the review as such, rather than the RAE review. The group would report to the funding bodies, and it would then be their decision to take forward any recommendations. Although funding is a key related issue, each funding body is separately responsible for determining funding allocations and funding will therefore be considered by other groups, including for HEFCE a new Strategic Research Committee.

3   One member voiced his disappointment that the group would not consider funding alongside assessment. The chair considered it possible that the group would have the opportunity to meet again at the end of the research assessment review process when consideration might be given to the broader picture including funding issues.

Groupís terms of reference

4   Members noted the terms of reference without comment.

Timetable and groupís workplan

5   Members noted the outline timetable for the review. It was anticipated that the groupís work would be completed by May 2003 when the formal consultation would be issued.

Outcome of informal meetings

6   The group were given a note of the outcome of informal meetings held over the summer by the chair and members of the review team. The chair emphasised that the informal meetings with various stakeholders were not intended to generate views representative of those groups or to gather evidence but rather to take a snap shot of current thinking which was helpful in developing the invitation to contribute paper. It is intended that the note summarising the discussion at these informal meetings will be published on the review website in due course. The review team regretted that they would not be able to meet all interested parties and therefore were encouraging groups to debate the issues and submit the formal record of their discussions.

Technical review team Ė role and responsibilities

7   Siân Thomas, leading the technical review team, clarified its role as supporting the steering group and ensuring members have adequate information to inform their debate and decisions. The dedicated website would be a useful tool for keeping all parties informed and up-to-date with progress. The website will contain working documents produced by the review, as well as responses to the invitation to contribute (unless confidentiality has been specifically requested).

8   A further paper was circulated as additional guidance on how the technical review will progress and in particular the criteria for the development of assessment models. Members noted that when the preferred model is being developed further work will be required to anticipate the likely impact on the academic community.

9   Siân outlined the specific work being commissioned to inform the review. An international comparisons study, a summative evaluation of the 2001 RAE, a costs analysis of the 2001 RAE (both internal costs and costs to the sector), and an investigation of possible metrics for evaluating and assessing research quality.

10   Members welcomed in particular the proposed study of international comparisons as a summary report of the current status of research assessment internationally. It was confirmed that within the studies some measurement of knowledge transfer activity would be included although the group accepted that measuring this comparatively could be problematic.

11   Members discussed in general the objectives of the review. They acknowledged that research assessment has significantly influenced the practice of academic research, and that the outcome of this review would also impact on behaviour. The group accepted as a fundamental principle that whatever the outcome, any change will influence behaviour, therefore the review would aim to influence behaviour in a positive way and endeavor to inject an element of calm in the intense debate surrounding research assessment.

12   The group recognised the broader impact of research assessment, evident by the many uses made of RAE data beyond its specific purpose, and agreed that the review would aim to inform wider stakeholders including other funders of research.

Invitation to contribute paper Ė for information and discussion

13   The group noted the general rejection of radical changes to research assessment observed by the chair in his consultations thus far, and anticipated that the majority of responses would be conservative and broadly favourable to the existing model. Members discussed ways in which the academic community might be encouraged to respond to the review with more radical ideas.

14   The group were informed of how widely the invitation to contribute had been distributed and members asked the review team to ensure that some key stakeholders had been covered, including the European Commission and younger researcher groups and industry.

15   Members were encouraged to continue discussion beyond the formal steering group meetings and a contacts list would be circulated to aid that process. The review team were asked to draw out the fundamental questions raised in the discussion and the steering group membership would work in smaller discipline related groups to address these questions in the context of the subject area. The output of these groups will be used to initiate further debate at the next steering group meeting and will also identify any reports and papers which might be useful to feed into the review.

Regional seminars and open meetings Ė update

16   The group were informed that consultants were being commissioned to facilitate regional focus groups to offer the community a further opportunity to contribute to the review. This would be conducted independently of the review team and the outcomes fed back to the steering group.

17   The chair outlined the format for the forthcoming open town meetings. These would be an opportunity to invite larger numbers of people to hear an update on the review, allow questions to the chair and a discussion of key issues. Two open town meetings would be held before Christmas in Edinburgh on 25 November and Sheffield on 11 December and in Cardiff, Belfast and London in the new year. Members local to these areas were invited to join the chair.

Any other business

18   Members confirmed that the proceedings of this group would be open and transparent. Papers and minutes of the meetings would therefore be made available on the website.

19   The next steering group meeting will an all day meeting on Tuesday 17 December 2002 at Wolfson College, Oxford, from 10.00am to 4.30pm. There will also be an opportunity for an informal discussion the evening before for those members that might be available.



Last updated 19 August 2004
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