AECC University College Makes First REF Submission

AECC University College was recently pleased to make its first submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

We provided 15 published research outputs from members of staff who are designated as able to submit for the purposes of REF, having defined time for research as part of their categorisation on the Research Responsibility pathway here at AECC University College.

We also were also required to submit two case studies documenting the impact of our research in the wider community and a statement that described our present research environment, support and resourcing, and future plans to consolidate and grow research activity

The submission was coordinated by Director of Research at AECC University College, Professor Dave Newell, and Lecturer in Research Methods and Postgraduate Framework Lead for the School of Chiropractic, Dr Michelle Holmes.

Dave reflects on the submission and its significance:

“This is the first time that AECC University College has entered the REF, so it’s a real milestone. We have learned a huge amount about the process and being part of the submission has already shaped our internal research culture. We’ve also gained significant institutional knowledge by engaging with other institutions and bodies that are involved in REF and have considerably expanded our network of friends and partners within HE.

“The REF process champions a strong focus on the impact of research that an institution has conducted and that’s an aspect of research that we’ll be looking to collect, curate and document robustly going forward.

“REF presently divides areas of expertise and research into 34 Units of assessment. This time around we submitted to a single Unit of Assessment (Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy). In the next REF cycle in around five years’ time we would expect to submit a far bigger REF submission from across our three schools to further units of assessment, particularly in areas such as Psychology and Sport.

“REF also collects information regarding success in external funding and metrics that describe postgraduate research activity. This time around our income was modest and as we don’t yet possess a postgraduate research program, we have no doctorial students. However, for the next cycle our aim and strategy will be to show increasing success in research funding. We are also currently pursuing our own postgraduate research doctoral programme and aim to have a number of doctoral degree completions in time for the next REF submission.

“Our submission to REF represents a real step-change for research at AECC University College. It gives us a real focus. If we do manage to secure funding as a result of this, it will help us in our push to develop and support our students and academic staff further, as well as develop and sustain other research capacity building such as a postgraduate research programme.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to our community at AECC University College, whose support made the submission possible. Your work in helping to underpin those who were submitted to REF represents a university community effort to put our best foot forward in our first attempt.

"Like a football team the 11 players on the field that actually play would not be playing at all without the huge team of experts behind them. We have also been lucky to be able to engage with many individuals at other institutions who have been hugely helpful with this process.

"In particular, Valerie Lodge at Arts University Bournemouth; Rachel Persad and the team at Guild HE Research; and colleagues at the University College of Osteopathy. All of them have been incredibly generous with their time, experience and expertise and we deeply appreciated their support.

“Coming into REF as a new actor has felt a bit like standing in the wings waiting to go on stage for the first time amongst seasoned performers. This can be a challenging experience but sometimes you just need to get out there and sing your song.”

You can read some of our research in our Research Repository here.

The REF is a process of national review, carried out by expert panels for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs), under the guidance of four main panels. Expert panels are made up of senior academics, international members, and research users. For each submission, three distinct elements are assessed: the quality of outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions), their impact beyond academia, and the environment that supports research.

You can find out more about the REF here.

Dave Newell

Above: Professor Dave Newell