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An Analysis of British Music Research as reflected in REF2014 and RAE2008

In this section:


The Project and Headline Conclusions

The Research Excellence Framework (REF)


Methodology and Selection Procedures



Downloadable PDF

Simon McVeigh and Richard Lewis
April 2016


Roman mosaic "Know Thyself"One of the better antique maxims, reportedly found in the forecourt to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, is ‘Know Thyself’.  It has been read in so many ways: Aristophanes offers ‘Know yourself, how ignorant and stupid you are’ while it figures on a memento mori mosaic from the convent of San Gregorio in Rome (right), and it is found in authors from Hobbes to Hofmannsthal.  For a scholarly community which develops as quickly and ambitiously as the one that the Royal Musical Association represents, knowing yourself is important, not only to keep up with changes in the anatomy of the discipline but also to be able to speak authoritatively to those who would like to know more about the study of music.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and its 2008 predecessor, the Research Assessment Exercise, provided data that allow us genuinely to ‘know ourselves’.  Getting a sense of the proportions of the discipline this way moves us away from anecdote, which risks moving so easily from polemic to policy, and towards a hard-edged, no-nonsense, look at what we do.  Clearly there are limitations as we try and make the results from the exercise a proxy for the architecture of the discipline: the 2014 REF only reflects the work of those employed by universities – and not perhaps its most innovative scholars: its graduate students (a similar analysis of PhD submission has already been undertaken and requires nothing more than update), but in general the analysis undertaken here serves well as a proxy for the state of the discipline both in late 2013 and in late 2007.  I am grateful to Professor Simon McVeigh and Dr Richard Lewis (Goldsmiths, University of London), assisted in the later stages by Professors Michael Clarke (University of Huddersfield) and  Thomas Schmidt (University of Manchester), for sustained and painstaking work in assembling the data and its commentary, and to the RMA’s Michael Byde for turning it into a useable set of web pages and downloadable pdf.

Mark Everist
President, The Royal Musical Association

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