Research Assessment Exercise 2014
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Issue No. 91, Feb 2014
Research Assessment Exercise 2014

The University Grants Committee (UGC) announced in late 2011 that the next round of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) would be conducted in 2014. Each faculty could submit 4 research outputs, such as a journal article, book, book chapter or con-ference paper, in 6 years for assessment. This would be the first time this was done via a fully Electronic System using electronic formats.

RAE2014 is the fifth such exercise to assess the research quality of UGC-funded institutions and the results will aid in allocating the research portion of the institutional recurrent Block Grant. The VPRG Office invited the Library to advise on copyright issues and the document submission methodology, and as a result kick-started the Library’s deep involvement in the RAE project during the past two years.

A Task Force for RAE 2014 was established in early 2012 by VPRG to oversee the submission, and included the University Librarian. The Library participated in the design of the Research Output Submission System (ROSS). We also developed the Document Repository to hold the research outputs and established the interface so that RAE reviewers could seamlessly download documents via UGC’s front end Electronic System. In October 2012, the Library formed an internal RAE Team and three RAE operational teams. In December 2012, the JULAC Copyright Committee and the Library sent copyright permission requests to 161 major publishers.

In January 2013, a dry-run was held to better prepare. The Library verified approximately 2300 research outputs and enhanced over 300 new records in the HKUST Scholarly Publications Database (SPD). This helped to facilitate faculty’s submission of research outputs from SPD to ROSS.

The first batch of outputs was received mid-May, kicking off this intensive submission exercise. The Fulltext Team ensured the correct document was submitted with each research output. The Metadata Team verified and input metadata and ensured all supplementary documents were submitted. The Copyright Team handled copyright clearance of all research outputs with publishers.

The Library finished the first-round checking of all research outputs in mid-September and attended 16 meetings with cost centers data submission in ROSS and resolved outstanding issues. In mid-October, the Library performed the final checking of all research outputs to confirm the quality of full-text files, and accurate and complete data submitted in ROSS. The final checking was completed on 8 November.

On 16 December, the submission deadline, the physical items were submitted to UGC in the morning. Prof Joseph Lee, VPRG, and Prof Tongxi Yu, submitted the data to UGC on behalf of HKUST in the afternoon, in the Library’s Special Collections Gallery.

  • Number of research outputs handled and processed: approximately 1800
  • Number of research outputs submitted to UGC: 1623 (1587 electronic submission +36 physical submission)
  • About 90% of our research outputs are journal articles
  • Number of publishers contacted for copyright clearance: 161 major publishers + 63 minor publishers
  • Percentage of copyright permission given: 80%
  • Number of Library staff involved: 33 plus 4 full-time student helpers

We also helped ITSC formulate methodology to perform load tests on all eight institutions’ document repositories in Oct-Nov 2013. HKUST’s Document Repository passed the tests and is well prepared for access by RAE reviewers in 2014. The very last task for the Library RAE Team is to finalize the total copyright charges to be paid.

Senior administrators have expressed their gratitude:

"I have been deeply impressed by the team spirit and working efficiency of library colleagues … Without your invaluable help, our RAE task would never been completed so satisfactorily" – Prof Tongxi Yu, Senior Advisor to VP-RG.

"Thanks for the report which I read with great interest. Thanks to the great contributions of the Library colleagues …" – Prof Joseph H W Lee, VP for Research & Graduate Studies.

Library staff are glad we could help, with our experience in developing the submission infrastructure, verifying bibliographic data, handling copyright, and obtaining full-text articles contributing to this exercise. In the process we have also encountered some major challenges.

Just to name a few: A tremendous amount of work was put into settling copyright issues; in the end, UGC and eight institutions will need to pay high costs for using the fruit of our own research. Data requirements were complex, unclear or incomplete and released very late, so that earlier processing needed to be redone. Submitting four copies of books was also a challenge as some titles went out-of-print. It was sometimes difficult to distinguish different stages of article publication (pre-published, articles in press and published articles).

The Library will continue to play a key role in assisting HKUST academic community to address many scholarly communications issues.