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SOAS falls thirty places in research league table

Tom King, BA Politics

SOAS has fallen 30 places in a research league table compiled by the Times Higher Education based on Research Excellence Framework data.

The table ranks SOAS as 61st out of the 126 institutions who had submitted research for evaluation; down from 31st when the analysis was last conducted six years ago. Just 23% of research produced at the School was given the highest four star rating, which means the work is considered “world leading”, compared with 50% of LSE’s research being given this top status.

However, 40% was given the second highest grading of “internationally excellent”.

Despite disappointing overall results, areas of the School’s research output have been recognised for their high quality. The Department of Music has been ranked 5th out of 44 UK  music departments across all measures and the Departments of History of Art and Archaeology, Study of Religions, Anthropology and Sociology were all in the top ten for the quality of their research outputs.

The Department of Politics and International Studies was rated 8th out of 56 departments in terms of the impact of its research. However, just over a quarter of politics research was judged to be “world leading” compared to 54% at LSE, 41% at UCL, 34% at King’s and 30% at Birkbeck.

The School was assessed on the basis of around 1,000 submitted publications from across departments as well as more than 30 case studies demonstrating the impact of SOAS research outside academia. The Research Excellence Framework is conducted on behalf of the UK Government every six to seven years to assess the quality of research from higher education institutions.

The Department of the Study of Religions out performed Oxford in terms of research ranked in the top two categories of “world leading” or “internationally excellent”; with 78% of SOAS submissions meeting that criteria compared to 72% from Oxford. The Linguistics Department was ranked 14th in the country in its field. Head of Department Professor Irina Nikolaeva said “I am particularly pleased to see that Linguistics has risen in the national league tables, reflecting the important and unique work that is done by our linguistic scholars in SOAS.”

“We will build on this over the next five years to make SOAS an international hub of linguistic expertise in the world’s languages. This fulfils the School’s vision when it established the first ever department of general linguistics in Britain in 1932.”

Director of SOAS Professor Paul Webley said: “The Research Excellence Framework provides a valuable yardstick by which we can compare our research performance with other institutions. We are particularly delighted by the recognition accorded to our Departments of Music, History of Art and Archaeology and Study of Religions.

“Congratulations are also due to Linguistics and the School of Law for level of their research output judged to be world-class. There are extraordinary stories of research impact from across the School about which we are extremely proud, especially in Finance and Management Studies, Politics and International Studies and Music. Equally, the vitality of research clusters in different disciplines have been recognised, particularly in Law, Study of Religions and, again, in Music.”

The full results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 analysis can be found here.



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