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Research Quality at Queen's University Management School

Every six years or so, the UK university system is subject to a research assessment exercise (currently known as the Research Excellent Framework - REF). The stated purpose of this exercise is to guide government funding for universities to those doing the best research. The 2014 REF assessed the quality of research outputs (books and journal articles), the quality of research environment, and the societal impact of research over the period 2008-2013. Each broad university discipline got a score somewhere between 1* (not good) and 4* (top of the pile). 

The results of REF 2014 were released just before Christmas. Many university departments and universities were delighted with the high grade point average (GPA) scores they achieved. But a deeper analysis of the results reveals that there was a lot of game playing taking place. First, some university departments only submitted their best researchers, which pushed up their GPAs. But this doesn't reflect the true research quality of that particular department. Second, some universities created research institutes (for an example click here) which excluded most staff in the department or faculty, but for the purposes of the REF, the research institute was the department. Click here to read more about REF game playing.

Queen's University Belfast did not engage in REF game playing. In terms of GPA, it ranked 42nd out of 101 institutions, but when its GPA is weighted by the percentage of staff submitted to REF (research intensity), it jumps to 8th in the UK (click here)! In terms of Queen's University Management School (QUMS), we jump from joint 34th to 9th in the UK! The Association of Business School's analysis of the REF results, which looks at breadth and depth of research, places QUMS 13th in the UK  - click here for their league table.

Overall, the 2014 REF results suggest that Queen's University Management School is in the top decile of UK business schools. Why has it been able to achieve this? Two reasons. First, it has a rich research culture inhabited by remarkable academics. Second, it has amazing PhD, MSc and BSc students who inspire academics to engage in world-leading research.  

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