The Politics and International Studies REF Sub-Panel has just met for the second time, so it is a good moment for an update.
A first point to note is that Kristian Gleditsch of the University of Essex has joined the Sub-Panel in the current criteria-setting phase. One of the people on the original list of nominees to the Sub-Panel was unable to take up their place, leaving an important gap in the field of quantitative political science. I am delighted that Kristian has been able to join us to fill this gap.
Second, the main task of the Sub-Panel so far has been to advise on the overarching Guidance on Submissions document and (in particular) Main Panel C’s Panel Criteria and Working Methods document. These in part reproduce guidance from the last REF, but are also being updated to clarify certain issues, but also to respond to the changes introduced after the Stern Report. I suspect the product will be a long and quite intricate set of documentation.
This will make – third – the consultation process on these documents especially important. Many of the issues - for example, who can be or must be submitted - will largely be questions of institutional policy. Others – for example, double-weighting of outputs, or continuing impact case studies which extend from cases submitted last time – will bear heavily on decisions at unit of assessment level.
So please do consider the documents carefully when they are made available (I anticipate in the second half of July) and make sure your views are heard in your institutions’ responses. The consultation period is set to extend to early/mid- (I hope mid-) October, so there will be plenty of time for reflection.
With that in mind, a date for your diary: I and other members of the Sub-Panel will be hosting a briefing on the draft REF documents (but also on the emerging understanding of how we are likely to interpret them in our working practice) on the early afternoon of 19 September, with the kind support of PSA and BISA. We hope this will be a useful occasion for Heads of Department and departmental REF Coordinators to discuss the draft documents, to help them influence their institutional consultation responses, and to shape their unit of assessment plans as they firm up in the run-up to the census date in 2020.