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The importance of qualitative psychology and the Research Excellence Framework

09 October 2018

A new Society publication offers guidance to qualitative psychologists the United Kingdom producing outputs for submission to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

A new Society publication offers guidance to qualitative psychologists the United Kingdom producing outputs for submission to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The REF is an exercise undertaken to assess the quality of research undertaken in higher education institutions across the United Kingdom.

Written by the REF working party of our Qualitative Methods in Psychology Section, Writing for the Research Excellence Framework 2021: Guidance for qualitative psychologists recommends treating REF outputs as “a very specific task to complete”.

It lists a number of points qualitative psychologists should bear in mind when competing those outputs:

  • Write to the REF criteria
  • Positively convey the strengths of your own work
  • Think about who will be assessing your work
  • Avoid overlap between submitted REF outputs
  • Carefully consider your publication outlet
  • Be aware of potential sample size issues
  • Have a REF publication strategy

Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard, the Society’s lead policy adviser, said:

“We have, as a Society, repeatedly expressed our concerns at the risk of potential disciplinary fragmentation under REF and that it is essential that the 2021 exercise should enable the fair, equitable and appropriate assessment of the full breadth of the discipline.

It is particularly encouraging that the chair of UOA4 (Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience) has explicitly stated that it seeks submissions from all areas of Psychology.

“We are confident that this new guidance will give very valuable assistance to qualitative psychologists to ensure that their work is properly assessed under the next REF exercise.”

Click here to download Writing for the Research Excellence Framework 2021: Guidance for qualitative psychologist

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