For our submission to REF 2014, we have submitted 11 units of assessment under the areas listed below, which showcase a diverse range of research expertise. We consider these to be areas of research excellence enriched through our research institutes and centres and also new areas of emerging research which we are committed to invest and develop in the future.
Unit 2a: Public Health, Health Services & Primary Care
Unit 2A, comprises the work of 24 staff researching across six themes in the Institute for Health & Wellbeing.
The themes all have professorial leadership:
Healthy Communities - Professor Jane South
Health Promotion - Professor Rachael Dixey
Pain Science and Management - Professor Mark Johnson/Michelle Briggs
Men’s Health - Professor Alan White
Men , gender & Wellbeing - Professor Steve Robertson
Nutrition & Childhood Obesity - Professor Pinki Sahota
The selected case studies submitted to the REF highlight three different approaches we have used to achieve impact from three of our research themes.
Child health and obesity remain key areas of public health policy in the UK as referred to in the recent Public Health White Paper and Marmot Review. The research undertaken includes interventions targeting the early years through to primary and secondary-age children and therefore compliments the life course approach currently recommended for public health and policy.
Alan White’s work on Men’s health is world leading and demonstrates how his early scoping work has led to a seminal European study funded by the European Commission. Jane South’s work on Lay engagement in public health and the wider issue of volunteering in health now feature prominently in UK policy and has taken a leading role in promoting knowledge exchange between academia, policy makers and practice.
Unit 4a: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
This is the first independent Psychology unit submission from Leeds Beckett University. Unit 4a features the work of 12 staff (a further five Psychology staff are returned in other units). Research activity and outputs fall into two main areas: Social and Health Psychology (e.g. gender and wellbeing; driving behaviour; coping with illness), and Cognition and Action (e.g. memory and dreams; embodied cognition; autobiographical memory).
Psychology research at Leeds Beckett University has an applied focus, and the main users of our research are practitioners, professionals and policy makers working in areas related to health and wellbeing (broadly defined). Psychology staff are central to the new Centre for Applied Social Research (CeASR), which has a particular focus on applied policy research, and there is now a Health Psychology strand to the Institute of Health and Wellbeing (IHW), where research activity focuses on applied health projects funded by external agencies.
Our research produces impact by providing an evidence base that informs policy and practice, thereby leading to improved outcomes for patients and other user groups. Our two impact case studies highlight our focus on social and health benefits: ‘Making the roads safer by developing interventions for offender motorists’ (direct influence on driver education), and ‘Meeting the information needs of men with penile cancer’ (provides an online resources for patients).
Unit 11: Computer Science and Informatics
The subject areas covered by Unit 11, fall within the remit of the School of Computing, Creative Technologies and Engineering.
The merging of the New Technology Institute (formerly a separate CPD activity) with the School’s Digital Research Centre (DRC) has allowed us to identify a number of focal points for research activity: those most relevant to this UoA are in the areas of Virtual Systems; Intelligent Systems; Mobile / Ubiquitous Computing, Converging Technologies, Networking; Green IT; Assistive Technologies and Software Engineering: the DRC also includes groups who fall outside UoA11.
Working within the University’s strategic plan, our school’s research and enterprise activities complement each other through our focus on research which concentrates on practical, problem solving activities.
Our research activities are closely aligned to our academic provision, in most cases, research groups support and deliver a cognate postgraduate course. Equally, our “enterprise” (consultancy, professional development and knowledge transfer) aligns with the applied research we carry out so as to optimise our research impact.
Unit 16: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, Professor Ian Strange
Research in Unit 16 at Leeds Beckett University is organised through research centres (clustering groups of subject based academic staff) that focus on providing high quality research activity and outputs across a range of disciplinary areas.
Research centres support the work of the following subject groups – Architecture and Landscape Architecture,Civil Engineering and Construction Management Planning, Housing and Human Geography, and Surveying - with research linked closely to industry through partnerships and professionally supported activities. These centres are: Centre for Built Environment (CeBe) and the Civil Engineering Research Facility (CERF) and the Centre for Urban Development and Environmental Management (CUDEM – planning and human geography).
The strength of the Unit has been recognised by the University, resulting in a strategic decision to form the Leeds Sustainability Institute in early 2012 to further support the work of these centres. The research undertaken in the Unit is focused on the production of pure and applied knowledge that contributes to the creation and management of a sustainable built environment. The specific focus of our activities is on low carbon housing, sustainable water supplies and construction materials for the developing world, construction industry knowledge exchange and spatial planning policy.
Unit 19: Business and Management
Unit 19 comprises the work of 19 staff (17.2 FTE) covering a range of topics including corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and business ethics, leadership, human resource development, small business development, labour market policy, international business, the financial sector and accounting practice, and strategic communications and public relations.
The unit’s approach to impact is based on a strong track record of applied research to inform policy development and practice and close collaboration with users in both public and private sectors.
Three case studies illustrate the ‘co-production’ approach, applying knowledge and expertise exemplified in high quality underpinning research in the fields of leadership and management development, employee skills development and corporate governance to inform policy and practice: government skills policy; the role of professional bodies and intermediaries in management development; and governance practice in the Rugby League.
The case studies illustrate the importance of the strong relationships built over the years with research users and intermediaries and demonstrate the benefit deriving from our research through impact on policy and practice.
Unit 25: Education
Unit 25 comprises the work of 13 staff researching across three key areas: childhood and early years, schooling (including work around special educational needs), and higher education (including internationalisation). The Unit’s approach to impact is based on the social justice concerns that motivates and inspires its research.
Two case studies validate the claims made about our approach to impact and, in particular, demonstrate how we express our concerns for social justice in relation to research methodologies, pedagogy, citizenship, community, social engagement, power and privilege, and issues of in/equality and inclusion/exclusion amongst others, as well as service improvements.
They are ‘Enhancing positive educational and employment outcomes for ethnic minority students and refugees’ and ‘Supporting Children: Childhood, Communication, Professionalism and Pedagogy’. Both case studies illustrate and illuminate our argument that members of the Unit are making a difference in policy and practice terms.
Unit 26: Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism
Our submission to REF in Unit 26 features the work of 53 academic staff and covers research undertaken within the Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure (ISPAL), led by Professor Carlton Cooke. ISPAL is one of only three University Research Institutes and was established in recognition of our quality and critical mass of researchers.
It comprises five designated University Research Centres: Active Lifestyles (AL) led by Professor Jim McKenna, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) led by Professor Anne Flintoff, Sport Coaching and Physical Education (SCOPE) led by Professor Pat Duffy, International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality (ICRETH) led by Professor Rhodri Thomas, and Sports Performance (SP) led by Professor Carlton Cooke.
The academic home of ISPAL is the Carnegie Faculty, but we work across the University, collaborating with researchers in all Faculties. All the Centres are aligned to two of the three Schools within the Carnegie faculty - ICRETH is aligned to the School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality and the other Centres are aligned to the Carnegie School of Sport. The six impact case studies were selected to best represent the impact of our work across Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism.
AL has three case studies: i. “Improving physical activity provision for mental health service users”; ii. “Obesity treatment, professional practice, policy and public understanding: Leeds Metropolitan University and More Life”; and iii. “Community interventions to improve the promotion of physical activity and of sport-for-development”.
The area of work selected to best represent our long-standing track record of impact in DEI is “Promoting racial equality through sport and leisure”. While our Sport Coaching research has been strategically developed since RAE 2008, it has already had a profound impact, nationally and internationally, which is captured in, “Professionalising sport coaching”. Impact within SP is most strongly represented by our work in anti-doping and supplement use in sport which is summarised in, “Informing global anti-doping policy and practice”.
Unit 34: Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory
The research strategy for Unit 34 encompasses diverse and interdisciplinary approaches and material enhanced by the coming together of several disciplines into the new School of Art, Architecture and Design (AAD). Our Unit has a progressive interdisciplinary approach and much of the research crosses boundaries impacting upon cultural life, education, and public discourse.
The overall profile of research is made up of outputs that range in scope from those which are of international significance to local projects; often collaborative and events based that have distinctive and deep reach in our regional community. The reach and significance of our work is further contextualised by the historical context of our School’s considerable reputation for practice.
The majority of the research in the Unit is practice based; academic staff are predominantly artists, designers and architects working across a broad spectrum of project types and levels. Our approach has been to emphasis and support collaborative work, particularly in the contexts of art curating, events and festivals.
Unit 36: Culture Communications and Media Library; and Information Management
As its title suggest, Unit 36 is the home a wide range of cultural and information management research.
It includes the literary, historical, and media cultures to be found in the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities; Libraries and Information Management Research from the School of Computing, Creative Technologies and Engineering, and Public Relations Research from the Centre for Public Relations. In its current form, we expect to submit 30 colleagues to the REF.
The impact of this research is differently inflected depending on which part of the unit is at stake. PR and information colleagues have clear routes to policy impact – and our case studies have been selected in part to reflect their force, with research that has led directly to changes in how government departments communicate with each other and the wider world, and research which has led directly to changes in how governments manage information in relation to a range of subjects from local libraries to child safety.
In the more humanities-related subjects, impact is about public engagement and audience reach – the social and cultural benefits of our research. In those areas we’ve selected case studies related to women writers and their audiences, and to public history, with a focus on how historic houses define the public’s notion of history (and what the gaps in that narrative might be).
The range of this unit’s work is enormous. The outputs include a vast array of single-authored books on everything from American Material culture to the mediation of politics; from lifestyle television to environmental history. There are journal articles and reports for government and NGOs. What brings it together is that it is all concerned with the power of communication to understand our world better.