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DDH and CMCI top in UK in REF

Posted on 18/12/2014

The Department of Digital Humanities and the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries are pleased to announce their strong performance in the Research Excellence Framework (REF), where they were jointly ranked 1st in the country according to the ‘power’ metric, which takes into account both the quality and quantity of research activity. They also received outstanding scores for the impact of their research and were ranked third of the Russell Group universities.

80% of the departments’ research was rated 3* or 4* - indicating internationally excellent and world-leading quality – in the REF, which assesses the quality of research taking place between 2008 and 2013 in UK higher education institutions.

The Departments submitted a combined 35 staff to have their research assessed, including six early career staff and a total of 119 research outputs including journal articles, edited books, authored books and website content.

Since the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008, three key strands of research have emerged which benefit from the collaborative ethos and close ties between the two departments: contemporary cultures of production related to the creative economy; digital culture and its evolving relationship to everyday cultures; and the study of ‘knowledge environments’: the institutional and cultural mechanisms by which cultural heritage, memory and knowledge are constructed and mediated.

As a result of this dynamic interdisciplinary approach, the departments have been awarded several significant research grants from a range of funders, including €7 million from the European Commission for the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure project.

Professor Russell Goulbourne, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, commented: ‘I am delighted that the quality, significance and impact of our research in Digital Humanities and in Culture, Media & the Creative Industries have been recognised in this way. These two ground-breaking interdisciplinary departments have explored creativity, cultural labour and the impact of technology on contemporary culture and society, working with a range of key cultural partners in London and beyond and connecting to emerging themes in broadcasting, publishing, performing arts, information technology, media and the cultural heritage industries.’

A new element of the REF was the requirement for higher education institutions to demonstrate the impact their research was having beyond academia, which has allowed both departments to showcase the ways that their cutting-edge research has informed social policy, the media, the cultural sector and even European environmental policies. By this metric, 90% of the departments’ research was rated 4*, indicating world-leading quality.

Impact case studies included the work of Simon Tanner, whose research has had a radical and transformative effect on open access policy in the museum sector. Demonstrating that the cost of managing intellectual property and maintaining payment structures in cultural heritage collections almost always outweighs actual revenue, Tanner’s work is frequently and generally acknowledged as the catalyst for a change in policy that has seen museums, galleries and archives internationally embrace unmediated, open access to digitised assets to the benefit of the general public, schools and life-long learners.

In another example of the departments’ reach outside academia, Professor Andy Pratt’s work on the conceptualisation, measurement and operationalisation of the cultural and creative industries has had significant impact within the field of cultural and economic policy at the urban, regional, national and international levels. His ideas have been taken up and used by policy makers to identify the contribution of the cultural economy and been instrumental in devising, amongst others, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Framework for Cultural Statistics.

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