Advice on RAE 2008 Outputs
For RAE 2008, each submitted member of research active staff (so
called, Category A or D) will nominate up to four
research outputs. This note provides some background to
help you select and optimise these outputs.
This advice draws on the Criteria and
Working Methods documents of Panel F and Subpanel 23, the
panels that mostly concern us, as well as generic RAE guidance.
What is a Research Output?
Most research outputs in our field will be research papers that
have been published in journals, books or conferences. However, many
other kinds of output are allowed. This list is taken from
Subpanel 23's criteria.
"All forms of research output will be treated equally. The
sub-panel acknowledges the breadth of technology transfer and
dissemination practice in computer science and
informatics. Consequently it will accept outputs in any form
including, but not necessarily limited to books, chapters in
books, articles in journals, conference contributions; creative
media and multimedia; standards documents; patents, product or
process specifications; items of software, software manuals; and
technical reports, including consultancy reports or independent
How are these Research Outputs Assessed?
The result of the 2008 RAE will be the assignment of an overall
profile to each submission. This will consist of 100 percentage
points divided between each of the five categories: unclassified, 1*, 2*,
3* and 4*, where 4* is the top category. This overall profile is
a weighted sum of three sub-profiles on the same scale, namely for:
research outputs, environment and esteem. The weight for research
outputs in our area is 70%, i.e. it is by far the most important
of the three sub-profiles.
The profile for research outputs is calculated by assigning a
category on the same five-point scale to each of the
submitted outputs. Each output will be examined by each of the
three or more spokespeople assigned to each submission. At least
25% of the outputs will be examined in detail by at
least one of these spokespeople. Note that no score or profile
will be assigned to either individuals or research
groups --- only scores to individual outputs by each
spokesperson en route to assigning a profile to each submission.
Getting a good profile is enormously important to the School
and the University, both because our RAE profile will determine a
great deal of our income and because of the kudos it will
bestow. It is thus vital that we submit the very best research
outputs that the School has produced during the census period.
How to Choose Your Research Outputs
To be eligible for submission as one of your four research outputs, an output must
have been published in the census period of 1st January 2001 to
31st December 2007, and you must be one of the co-authors. For
non-paper outputs the meaning of "publication date" may have to
be discussed with the RAE
Research outputs will be assessed on the three criteria of
originality, rigour and significance. You should choose four
outputs that score highest on these criteria. No particular kind
of output is preferred, a priori, over any other, e.g. there is no
ranked list of journals or conferences, electronic journals, hard
copy journals and conferences are treated equally. However, it is
clear that RAE panel members will have to examine a vast number
of papers in a short period. They will also have to examine papers on
topics on which they are not experts. It is, therefore,
inevitable, that they will use a variety of heuristic measures in
assessing papers. You should be sensitive to the likely heuristic
measures when both preparing and selecting your RAE submissions.
Among the heuristic measures most likely to be used are: what you say about
the impact of your work in the "why I chose this output" text box, title,
abstract, introduction and conclusion of a paper; the reputation, impact factor
and success rate of the outlet; the citations to and citation index of your
output; the appropriateness of your chosen methodology to establishing any
claims you make; etc. You can look up the impact factors of journals in your
research area and citation indices of your papers in ISI's Web of Knowledge. Google Scholar is also a useful source of
information about citations to your papers. The Publish or Perish
software provides a nice interface to the Google citation information.
How Do I Nominate a Research Output?
Research paper outputs should be entered in the Informatics@Edinburgh
Publications Portal. The submission form
contains fields for nominating a paper as an RAE submission, estimating a star
ranking for it and explaining why you chose it. Filling in this last field is
especially important, as its claims will guide readers as to how to assess your
paper. There are web pages giving special
instructions on submitting RAE papers to the Portal, including estimating star
rankings and also on filling in the
"why I chose this paper" field.
The RAE relevant information will not appear in the publication portal, but
will be stored in the School Database and eventually used to populate our RAE
submission. In the preparation for the RAE it will appear in an RA2 form for
each individual, where it will inform preparatory discussions between those
preparing our submission and the potential Category A, etc staff. You can access
your own form by clicking on your name in the potential Category A staff
Non-paper outputs will also be stored in the School Database and
entered on the RA2 forms, but they will not appear in the
publication portal. To nominate them, send the details to Rosemary Soutar. As far as
possible, provide fields analogous to those for paper-based
outputs, namely: title, co-authors, publication details, url,
estimated star ranking, why I chose this output. Depending on the
nature of the output, some of these may not make sense or
additional information may be appropriate. Please use your common
sense and discuss any problems with Rosemary.
Please also submit software outputs to the School of
Informatics Software Download Database (ISDD). Then provide a
link to its ISDD entry as your url when sending the details
about it to Rosemary. The ISDD will help us to monitor downloads
of your software and, hence, measure its impact, which is vital
for RAE assessment. If you have any questions about the ISDD,
please refer to the FAQ.
Tips on Preparing and Selecting Research Output
Here are some tips you might want to follow when preparing
research outputs for RAE submission and/or choosing which outputs to
- Be sure to emphasise not only the content, but also the
impact of your work in title, abstract, introduction,
conclusion and "why I chose this output" field. I have provided
of impact indicators to help you. It's not enough just to say
what you did -- you must say why it is significant.
- Avoid selecting outputs that are similar, or that make
incremental improvements on each other. Doing so will adversely
affect your originality rating.
- Be generous on co-authorship. This will increase our
flexibility when it comes to choosing outputs to submit. It is
anyway a Good Idea, since it ensures that nobody who has
contributed to the work feels slighted and usually repays itself
when your co-authors return the generousity. Washington
University in St Louis has a policy on
authorship that reflects the scientific consensus on who
should be the authors of a paper and what their rights and duties
- The RAE has made it far more important to have four
4* publications than forty 1* publications. Aim for the top
quality outlet that your research achievements will support.
- Try to include at least one journal paper, if you can.
- Consider whether one or several short conference or workshop
papers can be refined into an archival publication in a major
- Workshop papers would normally be categorised as 1* or at
best 2*, so should be avoided, if possible. Sometimes a
high-quality conference is called a "Workshop" for historical
reasons. If so, you should explain this in the "why I chose this
- If you can do so without compromising on quality, it is good
to have papers drawn from throughout the census period, rather
than restricted to a small subset of the period.
- Similarly, a mixture of single and multi-authored papers is
desirable, provided you don't compromise on quality.
- Avoid submitting papers that other people from Informatics
have submitted. Although such duplication is allowed, it will be
frowned upon by our Subpanel. You may need to discuss with your
co-authors how to divide up your papers between you. Remember, we
are trying to maximise income to the University. Individuals will
not be ranked. So give up your best paper to a co-author if this
ensures that the School's best papers can all be submitted. Note
that duplication across different universities or different units of
assessment is fine.
Normally, if someone submits fewer than 4 outputs then
the School will be punished by having the 'missing' outputs
classified as 'unclassified', which will adversely affect our RAE
However, exceptions will be made for those staff who, for one reason or
another, were unable to be research active for a significant part of the census
period. You can find more details in the document about
special circumstances. I have extracted possible grounds for exemption from
the RAE's generic statement on criteria and working methods.
"Panels will consider the following individual
circumstances to the extent that they are stated to
have had a material impact on the individual's
ability to produce the expected volume of research
outputs in the assessment period:
- a. Family and domestic matters, including:
- i. Absence on maternity, paternity, parental
or adoption leave and arrangements on
return to work following these periods of
- ii. Part-time working or other flexible
- iii. Time spent acting as a carer or other
- b. Disability, ill-health and injury, including:
- i. Any disability to which the Disability
Discrimination Act 1995 applies,
including both permanent disabilities and
any temporary disability with a duration
of 12 months or more.
- ii. Absence from work on the advice of a
registered medical practitioner.
- c. Engagement on long-term projects of
significant scale and scope.
- d. Status as an early career researcher. These are
individuals of any age who first entered the
academic profession on employment terms
that qualified them for submission to
RAE2008 as Category A staff on or after
1 August 2003.
- e. Prolonged absences (absences for more than
six months consecutively in the assessment
period) which were agreed by the individual
with the institution but which do not fall
into one of the categories above. They
- i. Secondment to non-academic positions
outside the higher education sector.
- ii. Career breaks for purposes unconnected
with research, teaching or other academic
- f. Other absences which the institution is
legally obliged to permit, such as absences for
religious observance or absence arising out of
involvement as a representative of the
- g. Any other personal circumstances which are
considered to have had a significant impact
on an individual's ability to produce the
expected volume of research outputs in the
If you think you may qualify for such an exemption, then please email Tamise Totterdell with (a) the grounds for
the exemption and (b) the period(s) over which this operative. Obviously, this
information may be confidential -- and we will restrict it to those who need to
know for RAE preparation purposes. However, you don't need to go into
unnecessary detail, e.g. you should tell us you were on sick leave, but not what
the illness was. If you can, just cut and paste the grounds from the list above
then that is fine, but the list is not meant to be exhaustive. The wording will
appear on your confidential mock RA2
form. Check this wording to ensure you are happy with it.
Last modified: Mon Aug 27 13:17:03 BST 2007