RAE 2008 Oxford code of practice

In preparing its submission, the University developed and adopted the Code of Practice documented below, which attended to all relevant equal opportunities legislation in force on the census date.

The principles of the Code of Practice will remain extant following the submission at the end of November through 2008 in so far as each member of staff will be able to ascertain their final RAE status and obtain information about how the decision was reached.

Should any member of staff have any particular concerns, they are asked to contact their Head of Division or the Equal Opportunities and Diversity Officer, Felicity Cooke (felicity.cooke@admin.ox.ac.uk) in the first instance.



Background

  • The funding councils require that in making an RAE submission, the head of each higher education institution (HEI) confirms that in preparing its submission and selecting staff for inclusion, the HEI has "developed, adopted and documented an appropriate internal code of practice, which attends to all relevant equal opportunities legislation in force on the submission date". (Guidance on submissions, RAE03/2005, Annex G paragraph 7)
  • This Code of Practice should be read in conjunction with the University’s Equal Opportunities Policy and Race Equality Policy.

Scope

  • This Code of Practice is issued by the University’s RAE Project Board in order to clarify the process to be followed for the 2008 RAE. It should be read in conjunction with the University’s Policies on Equality mentioned above, and has been revised following the dry run exercise of 2006 to take account of the findings of the dry run.
  • The overarching principle of this Code of Practice is that each member of staff who is eligible to be included in the University’s submission should readily be able to find information on the following: how a decision is taken, who will be taking the decision, how the decision can be discussed, and the outcome of any such decision.

Decision-making process

  • The responsibilities of the key participants in the University’s preparations for the 2008 RAE, and the principles on which decisions will be taken, are outlined in the Roles and Responsibilities section. This includes details of Unit of Assessment (UOA) Co-ordinators, the membership of the relevant committees, at the divisional and University level, their terms of reference, position within the decision-making process, and the criteria for their decision-making.

Briefing and guidance

  • Those staff who are in key decision-making roles, including members of committees mentioned above, will be offered detailed guidance on the operation of the criteria of the 2008 RAE as they apply to equal opportunities and special circumstances of staff.
  • Details of the RAE process, and how Oxford will manage it, including the appeals process, are detailed in the Roles and Responsibilities section. Together, these constitute the University’s Code of Practice. The Code is available to all members of the collegiate university via this intranet site and will be publicised electronically.

Grounds for special consideration

  • Grounds for special consideration are set out in the individual circumstances section (below). They include equal opportunities grounds such as part-time status, pregnancy and disability. Some panels have additional grounds for special consideration, and these are defined in their respective criteria and working methods documentation. In its preparations for the 2008 RAE, including the dry run in 2006, the University will only apply those grounds that the RAE panels have agreed convey eligibility for an individual to be returned with a reduced number of outputs. The following information, with associated links, describes how staff may indicate that they qualify for such consideration, while maintaining confidentiality.
  • Special consideration affects only the decision on the quantity of outputs submitted. In cases where individuals have demonstrated their eligibility for special consideration, the RAE allows these staff to submit fewer outputs. Guidance for coordinators on how the decision to submit a lower volume of work should be made can be found here: Guidance for Coordinators (6kb)
  • Absences for career breaks and secondments will be taken into consideration in accordance with Oxford’s submission expectations, in conjunction with the panel criteria and working methods of the relevant panel. Similarly, staff on fixed term contracts, including contract research staff, will be considered for inclusion in the 2008 RAE in accordance with Oxford’s submission expectations, in conjunction with the assessment criteria of the relevant sub-panel.

The 2006 Dry run: impact assessment, communication and consultation

  • The University conducted a broadly inclusive dry run of the RAE 2008 during 2006. It resulted in full dry run returns being considered by the divisional boards, and then the University Project Board, based on data available on the ‘mock up’ census date of 31 January 2006. These returns will include details of staff, their outputs, students, studentships and research income. Draft RA5a forms have also been developed, to reflect the research environment and esteem indicators of the Department1.
  • Where appropriate the dry run captured details of individuals’ special circumstances to make it apparent which staff would be eligible to be returned with fewer than the maximum expected number of outputs.
  • The dry run returns were be submitted by divisions to the central RAE team in the Planning and Resource Allocation Section (PRAS) during MT 2006 for consideration by the Project Board.
  • The dry run exercise will conclude with a full impact assessment. This will analyse the results of the dry run for differences in submission rates when potentially eligible staff are grouped by characteristics such as gender, ethnic group, national origins, or disability. The outputs of this impact assessment will be used to consider possible future initiatives to promote equality of opportunity. It is not intended that the University’s submission to the 2008 RAE should be modified in the light of the findings of the impact assessment.
  • During Michaelmas Term 2006 and Hilary Term 2007 the divisional boards will consider the likely quality profiles which would result from the dry run information, as well as reviewing the returns against the relevant panel criteria documentation2.
  • (Individuals will be able to find out from their divisional RAE officer whether or not their outputs and other contributions will be included in the University’s return on or after 1 May 2007. This information will not be widely disseminated within departments and faculties.
  • Appropriate consultation with staff and recognised Unions will be an integral part of the dry run and will form part of the evidence considered during the impact assessment. The results of the impact assessment will be reported to the Project Board as part of the review of the dry run exercise, and the Code of Practice modified as necessary.
  • In some UOAs staff may be invited to discuss their potential submissions as part of the decision-making process. However, there will be no general exercise to inform all staff of the decision on their outputs.

1The staff included in a submission to one of the 67 units of assessment of the RAE. RAE departments are often not identified with a single administrative unit within an HEI.

2Ref RAE01/2006 (A to O) http://www.rae.ac.uk/pubs/2006/01/

Appeals

  • On or after 1 May 2007 staff will be readily able to determine whether or not their outputs and other contributions are expected to be included in the University’s submission by contacting their divisional RAE officer. If they wish, the opportunity will be available to discuss the decision about their work with their UOA co-ordinator and/or divisional office. Full details of the appeals process are provided. This is intended to be the means by which academic staff can review the University’s decision in a fair and transparent way, in advance of the final submission being agreed.
  • Appeals are possible only against a decision not to include an individual’s outputs and contributions in the University’s submission. It is expected that appeals would be made only in relation to equal opportunities issues, or where there are grounds for special consideration. In such cases, an appeal could be lodged by an individual for them to be returned with fewer than the expected four outputs. The expectation is that all appeals for staff in post on 31 January 2007 should have been concluded at the divisional level before 22 June 2007. Any appeals should therefore be lodged before 31 May.
  • The expectation is that all appeals for staff in post on 31 January 2007 should have been concluded at the divisional level before 22 June 2007. It is therefore expected that any appeals will be lodged before 31 May. However, appeals in relation to equal opportunities issues will be accepted after that date and appeals may also be accepted in other, exceptional cases (for example, the applicant's status was not known on 31 May and a decision to exclude the applicant's outputs was made subsequent to that date).
  • It is expected that the appeals for those staff who start between 31 January and the end of June 2007, and those cases which have not been resolved by 22 June, will have been resolved by 14 September 2007.
  • The appeals process will not extend to the UOA to which an individual's outputs and contributions will be returned, nor whether an individual can 'opt out' of the University's submission.

Individual circumstances

In accordance with the panel criteria and working methods (RAE 01/2006, paragraph 39 and 40), in developing submissions co-ordinators, committees and divisional heads ...

"... will consider the following individual circumstances to the extent that they are stated to have a material impact on the individual’s ability to produce the expected volume of research outputs in the assessment period:

  • Family and domestic matters, including:
    • Absence on maternity, paternity, parental or adoption leave and arrangements on return to work following these periods of leave.
    • Part-time working or other flexible working arrangements.
    • Time spent acting as a carer or other domestic commitments.
  • Disability, ill-health and injury, including:
    • 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.
    • Absence from work on the advice of a registered medical practitioner.
  • Engagement on long-term projects of significant scale and scope.
  • 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 the 2008 RAE as Category A staff on or after 1 August 2003.
  • 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 include:
    • Secondment to non-academic positions outside the higher education sector.
    • Career breaks for purposes unconnected with research, teaching or other academic duties.
  • 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 workforce.
  • 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 assessment period.

Paragraph 40; other circumstances comparable with the examples in paragraph 39 will be considered, as long as an explanation is provided as to the way in which they are said to have impacted on the individual’s ability to produce the expected volume of research outputs."

Confidential personal circumstances

If any individual does not want to share details with their UoA Coordinator, of why they should be eligible for special consideration, they are advised to contact the Diversity and Equal Opportunities Officer in the Diversity and Equal Opportunities Unit [Felicity.Cooke@admin.ox.ac.uk]. The Diversity and Equal Opportunities Officer will make a confidential record of the circumstances, and then liaise with the PRAS RAE team to determine whether the circumstances would be valid under the terms of the Code of Practice. In those cases with valid circumstances the PRAS RAE team will produce a summary of how the circumstances adversely affected the individual’s contribution to research. This summary will then be provided to the relevant divisional RAE officer, for inclusion in the form RA5b and for due consideration in any appeal.