Filling in the "Why I chose this paper" field

For each member of research active staff submitted to RAE 2008 we will submit a copy of form RA2. In particular, this form will contain details of the staff member's four (or fewer in some cases) research outputs. For each research output there will be associated a free-form field entitled "Other relevant details" in RAE-speak. Since this name does not make it very clear what this field is for, we have called it "Why I chose this paper" and will also refer to it as the "text box".

This field is very important because it will constitute the starting point for the Panel's assessment of each output. So submitted staff must take especial care in filling it in. To propose wording for this field, fill in the "Why I chose this paper" of the Informatics@Edinburgh Publications Portal. To update the field, use the update form. Note that this will only give you access to the papers on which you are first author. If you are not the first author, ask him/her to make the updates for you. If all else fails, send the updated wording to Tamise Totterdell.

The purpose of this web page is to advise you how to fill in this field.

How the RAE View this Field

The role of this field is described in the Computer Science and Informatics Sub-Panel Criteria and Working Methods document as follows:

Some Tips on Filling in the Field

Please fill in the form in the 3rd person.

You should start your entry with a brief description of the content of the publication. You should also comment on the quality of the outlet. But this is not enough. The most important word in the text above is impact. The rating of your output will be determined principally by the impact of the research that it describes, i.e. whether it made a difference. What constitutes evidence of significant impact will vary widely depending on the area of research you work in and the nature of the research results achieved. There follows a non-exhaustive list of the kinds of thing you might mention, depending on your particular circumstances. I welcome suggestions of things that I have missed and might add to this list for the benefit of others.

Remember that this field will be read by panel members who are not experts in your research area. Try to make it as non-technical as possible, e.g. avoid acronyms and other jargon. Don't assume prior knowledge beyond that of a computing undergraduate.

Examples of Filling in the Field

By popular demand, here are some examples of the best practice in filling in this field. Thanks to those who gave their permission to have their entries reproduced here. I plan to add to this section as new examplars appear. Please make recommendations to me, in case I miss a good one.

Citation Indices and Impact Factors

The citation index of a paper measures how many times it has been cited by someone other than the author. The impact factor of a journal is based on the average citation indices for the papers published in that journal. Impact factors of top outlets in Informatics hover around 1. The top score, at around 10, is from ACM Surveys. Top conferences in an area can score higher than the top journals. The acknowledged main source of these figures is the ISI Web of Science. However, it unfortunately does not cover all Informatics outlets, especially conferences. You can get free access to this source via the Library or MyEd, provided you are registered with EASE or Athens. Citeseer used to be good for Computing outlets, but has been moribund for several years, so is no longer of much use. The new kid on the block is Google Scholar, but I have been unable to track down these kinds of measures on it. Let me know if you have and where to find them. The Publish or Perish software provides a nice interface to the Google citation information.

Alan Bundy
Last modified: Mon Aug 27 13:17:56 BST 2007