Camden Trades Council

Uniting workers and communities in the London Borough of Camden

Research Excellence Framework gives WLRI 2008-2013 4-star billing

Research Excellence Framework gives WLRI 2008-2013 4-star billing
The LondonMet’s Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI) REF result (announced on December 18) was amazing!
We put our collective academic outputs, my descriptions of our research impact and our research environment over the last six years and two excellent impact case studies before a panel of judges in the academic discipline of Area Studies. This includes American Studies, Middle East Studies, European Studies etc.
Our news is that we found out on December 18 2014 that we have been ranked 4th out of the 23 UK universities who do research in this very broad field.
Our 2014 overall UoA 27 sub-panel rating was higher than Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, SOAS and Edinburgh Universities to name a few, while those universities scoring above us were only the LSE, Birmingham and Exeter.
Not only that, but out of all the 36 Units of Assessment (UoA) covering research carried out by all UK universities, we were the highest ‘new’ post-1992 university ranking group of researchers except for the three vocational UoAs (Dance, Art and Design, and Sport).
The WLRI team I led comprised 9 social justice researchers of whom three had recently come to us from another excellent Research Institute, ISET (the Institute for the Study of European Transformations). Two other excellent LondonMet Social Science and Humanities faculty colleagues were also in the submission, giving a total of 11 who were entered. Nearly all our research has been on European working lives and the University finance department reported we had raised £4.4m in external research income over the 6 years. There was another £1.5m income that was not included.
Our result was significantly better than six years earlier. In the 2008 RAE the 17 staff who were entered in the European Studies Unit of Assessment (UoA) that then existed were ranked joint 10th out of 27 universities.
Since then, despite misplaced attacks on research and on the WLRI directly, with my being suspended in early 2013 and being given a final warning, and then our being targeted for extra redundancies, we got this stunning result.
Outputs are the most important aspect of a REF submission. Ours were judged to be above the national average for Area Studies. A staggering 69% of our publications were rated 3* (internationally excellent) or 4* (world leading) compared to a 63.3% average for Area Studies. 21% of our publications were judged to be ‘world-leading’ (4*).
Our Impact rating was even better: 70% of our Impact was judged to be ‘world-leading’ (4*), and 30% was ‘internationally excellent’ (3*). We were topped only by LSE and Exeter.
Our Research Environment rating was equal with Oxford and Cambridge (50% of it was judged to be ‘world leading’), and we were exceeded on this measure only by UCL, Birmingham and LSE.

I am proud to have begun our Impact statement by writing that LondonMet’s
‘socially accountable and redistributive ethos is reflected in the university’s long history of addressing the needs and realities of the less privileged strata of British society. Thus social justice remains a key driver of our Area Studies research into migration, inclusion and exclusion, and representation processes – particularly in relation to changing forms of work in different European communities…
‘Our approach to non-academic users, beneficiaries and audiences over the whole period 2008-2013 has been rooted in the philosophy of user-engagement and giving voice to those who are rarely heard. Our experience is that this approach maximises the ownership of impact by those involved in the research process.’

This highly positive competitive external audit of the WLRI’s work between 2008 and 2013 comes out of our collective work.
But it is also a real personal high for me. I was a founder of the WLRI in 2002, with Mary Davis, Chris Coates and Fiona Colgan, and have been its Director ever since, and this great result falls just before my retirement and my move to Emeritus Professor status on February 14 2015.

Way to go!

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