I’m really pleased that the initial membership of the Politics and International Studies (and all the other) sub-panels for the next REF has now been published. I realise it has taken quite a while to get from when nominations were made to this point. I’m grateful to PSA, BISA and the other organisations that nominated potential members – and for their patience since.
The process of setting up sub-panels this time has been different, with the sub-panel being put together in two phases. An initial group will meet this year in the first, criteria-setting phase to consider, recommend and put out to consultation any nuances to the general REF criteria it thinks the sub-panel might need. This group will be joined in 2020-2021 by additional panel members for the assessment phase. Some of the assessment phase members have been identified now, and others will be in 2020 to ensure full coverage across the discipline – including in areas not fully covered by the initial round of nominations – and to bring in full user expertise.
My approach has been to bring together as big a group of criteria phase members and to identify as many assessment phase members as HEFCE would accept, so as to establish as inclusive a sub-panel as possible from the outset. A number of those selected for both the criteria-setting and assessment phases have not yet responded, so more names should be added to the list shortly. My intention is to have a sub-panel for both phases which gives a wide subject coverage across politics and international studies, draws in members spread across the UK with no more than one from any single department, includes a good mix of past and new sub-panel members, is fully gender-balanced, and includes people from different ethnic backgrounds.
Those different dimensions of inclusion are important. The stakes in the REF process are high, both for what its outcomes say about the relative strength of the discipline as a whole, and for the standing of departments in their institutions. It is vital that the sub-panel has a membership which can engage across the discipline with credibility and authority. The sub-panel also needs to be as open as possible as early as possible about how it will go about its work, not least in the consultation on criteria that will take place this autumn. That means you should see quite a bit of me and other sub-panel members in the coming months. I’m looking forward to it!
- Professor Charlie Jeffery