BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: April 16, 2009
Minutes of the 258th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at University of Nottingham on April 16, 2009.
H Macpherson, M Halliwell (Vice Chair), C Morley (Secretary) T Saxon (Treasurer), I Bell, P Blackburn, S Castillo, P Davies, R Ellis, W Kaufman, A Lawson, G Lewis, S MacLachlan, R Mason, I Scott and M Whalan.
Apologies: M Collins
2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting
These were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.
3. Matters Arising
Action List Review
The Secretary asked the Exec to comment on the status of their Action List duties.
HM and MH noted that they had spoken to Martine Walsh about the annual CUP lecture costs (in terms of speaker expenses). There will be a small increase in the amount allocated to this next year and the matter is still under review.
It was agreed that Martine Walsh will consult with the Treasurer and the Conference Subcom chair regarding flight costs and other expenses. RM noted that the 2008 Edinburgh Conference didn’t have any support for the CUP speaker and welcomed the move.
Other Action List duties will be discussed under the relevant heading below.
4. Chair’s Business (HM reporting)
HM announced that Jude Davies has been made Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Winchester and Richard Carwardine is to become the next Warden of Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford. Ian Scott has recently been elected to the AHRC Peer Review College. Also, Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor at De Montfort University and Director of the Eccles Centre, has been elected as a Rothermere American Institute Fellow, in recognition of his ‘exceptional contribution to the intellectual life of the RAI’ and his ‘distinction in academic, professional or public life.’
HM also noted that a PhD Student at Sheffield, Kaleem Ashraf, had his poetry read by Julia Wright (writer, activist and daughter of the great Richard Wright) at the National Unveiling of the Richard Wright Stamp at the Chicago Post Office on 9 April 2009. The ceremony was part of the centennial celebrations of Wright’s life and work.
HM announced that Vivien Hart, former Professor of American Studies at Sussex and RAE panellist in 1996 and 2001, died on 2 February.
HM had received mixed news regarding American Studies programmes this quarter. Sussex has retained is status as an American Studies department, which is good news and welcome in the current climate. In addition, the University of Leicester has seen a marked increase in applications to its American Studies courses, as announced in the Times Higher. The Director of the Centre for American Studies, George Lewis, noted the Obama Effect. The rise is approximately 60%. As another measure of the strength of American Studies at Leicester, a talk by Mark Lanning (assistant cultural attaché US Embassy London) on ‘President Obama’s First 100 Days: Past, Present and Future’ on 16 March 2009 attracted an audience of 147 individuals. Manchester has also reported that applications are buoyant, particularly in relation to new joint honours programmes with English and History. Nottingham too has had a large increase in applications. On the downside however, King’s College London has announced that it will concentrate on postgraduate provision and phase out their undergraduate provision in AS over the next three years. HM asked colleagues if they wished BAAS to write to their VC about this, but colleagues did not wish this to occur.
HM reported to the committee that she had written to the Vice Chancellor, Dean, and Head of School at Liverpool John Moores following discussions with Joanna Price about the future of American Studies at the University as well as the American Studies Resource Centre. Although initially slated for closure, HM reported that American Studies has been saved, and will be merging with the English Department. In addition, there is continued support for the ASRC.
HM was sent the Academy of Social Sciences bulletin (previously circulated by email). She also received a list of the new Academicians. HM noted that BAAS does have the opportunity to put people forward. Interested individuals should contact HM and CM.
HM received the minutes of the REF Advisory Group first round meetings (previously circulated by email—and to be discussed below under the RAE).
HM also noted that she had received a number of emails from Professor Pete Messent regarding the RAE, which will discuss later in the agenda (email replies circulated).
HM was invited to the upcoming Fulbright 60th Anniversary Lecture on 13 May but is unable to attend.
(d)Consultations and Activities
HM attended a meeting of the Chief Executive/Chief Officers’ Group for the Academy of Social Sciences held at the Nuffield Foundation in London on 3 March. Amongst the issues discussed were academy events, consultation on the Research Ethics Framework, membership, sharing of resources, and the funding of the academy. Stephen Anderson, the Executive Director, confirmed that no changes were planned for the funding of the Academy until it was in a position to show more benefit to members. BAAS has an opportunity to nominate 5 members for the position of Academician. Professor Cary Cooper was announced as the new Chair of the Academy Council.
HM attended a meeting of the Associate Fellows of the ISA on 4 March in London; the ISA is interested in setting up research training for AS postgraduates, and HM suggested that they contact Michael Collins and look at attending and working with the annual postgraduate conference.
HM (along with MH) attended a meeting with CUP to talk about JAS issues on 13 March in London (to be discussed under Publications),
HM noted that she had fielded answered questions about post graduate provision in the UK by a prospective American student and answered queries about the US newspaper database. She also distributed CFPs as appropriate to the Webster and to the mailbase coordinator. HM corresponded with media outlets regarding the death mask of George Washington and she corresponded with the director of the Bath International Music Festival about funding opportunities for the Appalachian Strand of the programme.
HM has been making enquires about the American Studies Research Portal but so far has not have any leads as to what has happened to this. It seems to have disappeared without a trace and is a significant loss. HM noted that if this is no longer available, we may need to think about compiling an ‘Expert List’ on the BAAS website.
5. Secretary’s Business
(a)CM noted that, as usual, her main role revolved around information flow. She regularly passed information on to Alison Kelly, Clare Elliot and Graham Thompson for ASIB, the mailbase and the website respectively. Information was also passed on to various members of the committee for information, dissemination or interest.
(b)CM wrote to Ms Haydn Parks at BUNAC, inviting BUNAC to host a stand at the conference and to liaise with the teachers at the BAAS Teachers’ Meeting. Ms Parks was given the contact details of CMB and PB.
(c)CM helped direct people with research queries to the appropriate sources; she dealt with many requests for information on American Studies MA and PhD programmes; and, again, had a few requests from American Studies graduates in search of employment and careers advice. CM noted that she fielded enquires for bibliographic assistance from many overseas academics (she thanked the committee for their assistance with these queries); directed enquiries regarding the conference to CMB; advertised the conference and the elections in particular via the usual avenues and after the elections at the AGM will update the Charities Commission information with details of the committee members. She also updated and sent out the External Examiner’s list.
(d)CM noted that she had dealt with various requests for speakers: dealing with BBC 4 in their research into 1950s American airports and BBC Online regarding the death of John Updike, amongst others.
(e)CM updated the BAAS Standing Orders adding the JAS Assistant Editor can become a co-opted member of the committee.
(f)CM noted that she had dealt with a few emails and lengthy phone call enquiries regarding the BAAS Exec. As yet, however, she noted that she had not received any Nomination Forms. CM asked colleagues to strongly advertise the AGM and the elections.
(g)CM noted that she had also contacted two web design companies for assistance with the amelioration of the website and she is awaiting responses.
6. Treasurer’s Business (TS reporting)
(a)TS circulated the BAAS annual accounts, noting a change in the Charity Commission’s conditions with regard to how we classify ourselves as a charity. She noted that we are now required to stress how we are of benefit to the community and the general public (in terms of unwaged or less waged people, i.e. PG students). TS noted that as yet there was no template for phrasing our Public Benefit but added that we should have clearer guidelines next year.
(b)TS noted that subscriptions are down on last year which means that our income from subscriptions has dropped £3000 this year (see p. 10, point 4, of BAAS Accounts 2008). She noted that there have been a few cancelled Standing Orders. BAAS will need to monitor this issue as it may be a continuing trend; undoubtedly, the current financial crisis has had an impact. TS also noted that the costs for Journals and Publications have increased in the past year and this was partly due to the Discover American Studies CD project.
(c)In terms of Income and Deficit, we currently stand with a good deficit of £14,000. This is a positive position (as we should not make a profit) and certainly no cause for concern.
(d)HM raised the issue of possibly setting limits to the amount of monies awarded by BAAS to fund conferences (i.e. to possibly cap the BAAS Conference Grant as we do need to have some parameters). DE said that he preferred keeping the current situation as something like the introduction of deadlines would curtail the amount of assistance that we could offer. He suggested that deadlines would introduce an extra level of administration. TS said that deadlines might be set to match flurries in terms of applications; as it stands there is an implicit deadline in the four Exec meetings. HM suggested that we continue to monitor this situation and discuss it further at the next meeting. TS will check back on the spreadsheets for the past few years in order to get a sense of when most Conference Grant Award bids are received.
(e)The Treasurer noted that the bank accounts (as at 15 April 2009) were as follows: General Deposit, £17,214.69; Short Term Awards, £1701.44; Current, £21,349.73; Conference, £969.96; making a total of £41,235.82. The amount in the RBS Jersey is £15,474.61 and the US Dollar Account has $9,460.90.
(f)TS reported that fully paid up members for 2010 currently stand at 462 including 160 postgraduates. This does not compare favourably to the position last year, which was 523 members (with 190 postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 525 (179 postgraduate) compared to 586 (with 209 postgraduates) in April 2008.
(g)TS also raised the matter of the proposed raise in fees, which is to be brought to the AGM. TS reminded that committee that she had emailed a document with details of the breakdown. TS will propose a rise in full membership to £48; this will cost £34 for PG with the journal. The cost for PGs without the journal is £14. Retired members with the journal will rise to £44; and the cost for retired members without the journal will rise to £14. This rise in subscription takes into account funds which will be designated to develop the BAAS website and cover the cost incurred by the increased number of JAS issues. MH noted that the move from 3 to 4 JAS issues is fiscally neutral and actually represents a better scenario in terms of what we get out of JAS (as well as this, the extra issue will give more colleagues a chance to publish). This rise in fees is to be held for three years (the last BAAS subscription increase was 2002).
7. Development Subcommittee (WK reporting)
(a)On behalf of the Development Subcom WK recommended that the following small conferences be supported: Ruth Hawthorn’s ‘New Clear Forms’ poetry conference at the University of Glasgow (£300); H Mitchell for the BAAS Annual PG conference at Northumbria (£300); Phil Davies for the Congress to Campus 6th Form Conference (£300); Kathryn Nichol and Jenny Terry for a Toni Morrison symposium at the University of Durham (£280); Richard Martin’s David Lynch conference (£300); Dick Ellis for the New American Studies Conference at the University of Birmingham (£300); Bella Adams has requested £200 for the ASRC Schools Conference; Eleanor Thompson requested £300 to fund PG bursaries at the upcoming HOTCUS conference. All applications were supported by the committee.
(b)WK noted that there does not seem to be a Teachers’ meeting scheduled for the Nottingham Conference. In the past there has always been a Teachers’ day. RM noted that there had been no such meeting at the Edinburgh Conference. Indeed, there has not been a Teachers’ conference meeting since 2007. In the past IR liaised with the Teachers’ link to set this up. HM suggested that WK liaise with Bella Adams and ascertain if she has the list of American Studies teachers/schools as it is imperative that we engage with schools. IS noted that as Awards Chair he had lists of schools which might be of use. However, he questioned how useful this might ultimately prove as despite his contacting extra schools he had heard very little back from schools and there had been a rather small number of applications for the Schools’ essay prize. All acknowledged that it can be difficult to reach teachers. SM raised the possibility of each of us in our own area holding American Studies activities for schools and A-level students. She noted that things are happening with schools on a local level. For instance, there are many American Studies A-level reading days at universities across the country.
(c)WK reminded that committee that in the past there had been money available to assist teachers in attending the meeting and perhaps if this were better known (if indeed it is still the case) we might be able to attract more teachers. TS noted that there were very few School members. She suggested that we write to Schools alerting them that it is now free now for Schools to join BAAS. HM suggested that another way forward could be to use the Congress to Campus link. All ideas to be taken forward to the next meeting and discussed with the new Teachers’ Representative.
(d)Related to this matter, PB suggested that the Annual Conference might be attractive to Teachers if there was a built-in programme (or a strand) in line with A-Level/GCSE teaching. Otherwise, he noted, there is not a lot on the conference programme for teachers to go to. HM noted that the conference organiser should have a Schools’ Liaison officer on the organisation team. PB also suggested the possibility of a dedicated Schools Conference to generate links with BAAS. He also reminded the committee of the successful involvement of School students with the Manchester PG conference. In order for this to happen again, MC will need to liaise with the local schools and the PG conference co-ordinator. WK to discuss these ideas with the new Teacher’s Representative. Finally on this matter, PB noted that the website needs a dedicated Schools’ strand.
(e)HM reminded the committee that we also must ensure that when we fund events we need to ask the organisers to advertise BAAS with the BAAS leaflets and make sure that our support is noted on advertising. MH raised the issue of making a PowerPoint slide to project on the wall at BAAS-supported conferences. All agreed that we need to advertise BAAS when we give out money, to raise or public profile and show our benefit. CM to reformat the BAAS leaflet with new members’ details and prepare a BAAS slide.
9. Publications Subcommittee (MH reporting)
Nothing to add to KM’s extensive written report from the previous meeting.
(b)Edinburgh University Press (EUP)
Nothing to report.
(c)Journal of American Studies
Following a meeting between HM, MH, SC, SL and Martine Walsh in London on 13 March 2009, the proposal to move from 3 to 4 issues per year from 2010 was put before and accepted by, the committee. It will be raised at the AGM in terms of the rise in subscription costs. The extra issue would cost an additional £5, making the rate £20 for BAAS members to receive JAS. The page length of future issues will be 240 pp.
MH noted that CUP will create a special ‘Best of JAS’ page of articles from the archives by the end of June. They will also provide a short piece for ASIB about the archive, its creation, and its functionality. The piece will also introduce First View publication. SC will organise the article for the summer issue of ASIB (noting AK’s 31 July deadline).
MH noted that SL will present an introduction to the online developments of the journal ahead of the JAS lecture during the Nottingham conference.
MH also mentioned that the proposal to add an additional Associate Editor to the JAS team was discussed at the London meeting in March. This proposed role would possibly called the ‘Media Editor’, with a shorter 2-year term which would be renewable for up to one term. It was agreed that SC and SL would produce a formal paper to be submitted in advance of the next Publication Subcommittee in summer 2009.
(d)American Studies in Britain (ASIB)
The deadline for the next issue is 31 July.
(e)US Studies Online
The Editor has produced a paper flyer for the BAAS conference packs, and will advertise the forthcoming issue (which includes papers from the Exeter BAAS Postgraduate Conference) through an e-flyer.
DE noted that BLARS may have found a possible solution to the ongoing issues regarding the website. Dr Bella Adams suggested that a way forward might be for her to become the Webster (she has expertise in web-design). She had suggested integrating the maintenance of the website with her teaching by setting students website-related tasks. DE and others thought that this was a plausible way forward as long as BA maintained complete editorial control over the website.
MH had a quotation through from a professional web-design company and wondered if it might be a better idea to have a professional redesign of the website before handing it over to BA. He also noted that it would be necessary for BA to work with Graham Thompson as GT is the only person who understands how the website works on a technical level.
HM suggested that we empower DE to talk to BA and to invite her to the next meeting and sit on the Publications Subcom. DE will ask BA to liaise with GT to discuss her technical capabilities.
10. Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)
(a)SM reported all was in place for the Nottingham conference although sadly Professor Alison Graham is ill and will have to miss her plenary lecture. Professor Douglas Tallack (Leicester) will take her place.
(b)The Call for Papers for BAAS 2010 at UEA is in the conference packs. TRS will be at the conference.
(c)On the subject of future conferences, SM noted that basic arrangements were in place at UEA, UCLAN, Manchester, Exeter and Birmingham.
11. Awards Subcommittee (IS reporting)
(a)IS reported that the awards business had been concluded for the year with the exception of the extended deadline for Eccles submissions running to May 15th. IS and Michelle Smith will coordinate these submissions and pass them on to the panel who would then deliver the results to the new Chair of the subcommittee.
(b)IS thanked all those who had judged the awards, especially those who were not members of the Exec.
(c)IS noted that BAAS will hand out 29 awards in 2009 worth a total of nearly £70,000.
(d)IS reported that the TAship at Wyoming had been very successful again and that this will continue through another cycle for a further two years at least. He noted that Amy Hopkins will take up her TAship this year in the English Department at the University of New Hampshire.
(e)IS reported that after the call for nominations, two inaugural fellows had been chosen for the BAAS Honorary Fellowship. Both Mick Gidley of Leeds and Richard King of Nottingham will be in attendance at the conference and were delighted to have been nominated.
12. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (DE reporting)
(a)DE reported that the most recent meeting of BLARs, the Subcom had discussed the matter of collaborating with Intute to develop an American Studies presence. This has since been pursued and BA is preparing a tutorial page for American Studies students to evaluate and critique materials. The ultimate plan is to develop a series of refereed websites on the back of this. DE will send out a call for referees via the mailbase. He also suggested the possibility of working with the JAS Editorial Board referees and reviewers. DE to liaise with SC.
(b)DE noted that there would be a panel at the conference entitled ‘Dirty Filthy Copyright’. This panel will also run at the UEA 2010 BAAS Annual Conference but the emphasis next year will be on intellectual property and research impact.
(c)DE noted that he had successfully applied to US Embassy for support for BLARs journal.
(d)DE reported that there are still copies of the Discover American Studies CD available. DE noted the 22% rise in AS applicants, adding that it might be argued that the CD had a role in this. He also mentioned that Birmingham had a 38% increase in applications.
13. EAAS (PD reporting)
(a)PD circulated a full and detailed report which noted that the EAAS board had recently met in Zurich (3-5 April). It had been discovered that the legal registration of EAAS as an official entity had expired due to changes in the law in Austria (where the registration had been made. At the Board meeting in Austria an extra special meeting was held to reconstitute the organisation under German law. This has led to an extension of the terms of some of the current members to be extended by one year. PD reminded the committee that the current officers are: President – Hans Jurgen Grabbe (until 2013); Vice President – Martin Heusser (until 2011); General Secretary – Jenel Virden (until 2011); Treasurer – Stephen Matteson (until 2013).
(b)PD reported that at the Zurich meeting the President had made a recommendation that national associations adopt a common electoral term for their representatives to EAAS, of a four-year term, limited to maximum of two terms. Terms currently range from 2 years to no fixed limit, most, but not all, with the possibility of re-election, and about half the national associations appear to have limits. PD noted that while there was sympathy for the President’s search for a common system, it seemed clear that many organisations would not change their current practices, so the President requested that the senior executive of EAAS at least be kept fully and promptly in touch with any changes in the officers of the national associations. PD added that this issue would undoubtedly arise again in the future.
(c)PD observed that BAAS is currently the 4th largest association of the 21 members, Our declared 456 members make up 11% of the total membership of EAAS. The Spanish Association for English and American Studies has 539 members, the French Association for American Studies has 720 members, and the German Association has 841 members. These four associations make up 61% of the total membership. PD noted that some associations are more multi-disciplinary than us and this is something we need to work had at in the future.
(d)PD noted that national associations were asked to re-advertise the Rob Kroes prize. PD has sent this information to the membership via the mailbase. He also reminded the committee of the publication opportunities in the European Journal of American Studies.
(e)PD noted that EAAS would like a more prominent link from the redesigned BAAS website. He added that in run up to the Dublin conference a more prominent link would be especially beneficial to BAAS members.
(f)PD reported that the EAAS Board had examined proposals received for the 2010 Dublin conference: 24 of 42 workshops were invited (there were 10 proposals received). He noted that British-based academics would have further opportunities when the workshops will advertise their CFPs. PD noted that workshop participants should be members of their national associations. There was also a proposal at the EAAS executive meeting that workshop proposals should only be accepted from valid members of national associations. PD had made the point that in nations where American Studies associations are not wholly multidisciplinary it makes little sense for a scholar to go to the expense of joining in order to speculate a workshop proposal to EAAS. In the interests of expanding the multidisciplinary reach of American Studies, PD had argued that any membership requirement be limited to requiring non-member proposers to join their national association if their proposals were accepted. The discussion at Zurich was inconclusive and the issues may well be aired again.
(a)HM welcomed Professor Paul Cammack, Head of Politics and Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University and Chair of RAE Subpanel 47. Professor Cammack was invited to the meeting to discuss the REF. Professor Cammack began his presentation by mentioning that the next meeting of the REF team would take place on 28 April. He invited the committee to email him with thoughts and input to bring to the discussions. He also mentioned that he, like all RAE panellists, undertook a commitment to confidentiality and had destroyed all information relating to the RAE even before the results were publicised; he therefore has no authority to enter into further analysis of the RAE decisions.
(b)Professor Cammack identified three key points in relation to the REF: (1) government steer; (2) shape of the exercise; and (3) how do we, the subject community, affect the exercise and how do to we position ourselves?
(c)The overall steer from the government was that research must contribute to the competitiveness of the UK in the global economy; and it must have some relevance to public policy issues. This was a tough task for many of the humanities, but the issue would not go away, so had to be addressed.
(d)This would be reflected in the shape (point 2) of the REF – impact will replace esteem. While it is already clear that there will be some academic consultation in validating the changes that are on the way, his sense was that this would really only take place at the margins. The central policy drive is already set in place and seems non-negotiable.
(e)Professor Cammack circulated a summary document relating to the Round 1 meetings of the REF Advisory Groups (February 2009). It noted, among other things, that the lack of a mechanism to ensure consistency between Main Panels had been acknowledged as a weakness of RAE2008.
(f)Professor Cammack noted that consideration of environment would be retained for the REF, with some modifications to secure greater uniformity of approach.
(g)Professor Cammack drew the committee’s attention the new emphasis on impact and invited the Exec to consider what form this might take. He noted that this was something the subject community might be able to influence. Measurement of impact might extend back before 2008, and impact ‘enablers’ (engagement with users and knowledge transfer activity) might be measured as well as evidence of actual impact. The REF Advisory Group was looking at the way the research councils (and others) measured impact. Professor Cammack suggested that the committee might look at the approaches of the relevant research councils (AHRC and ESRC), and consider whether it should use its influence to encourage their adoption (perhaps in a modified form) for the REF. This would avoid having to deal with different systems of measurement (for example, in bids for research funding and subsequently for the REF), and it would avoid the imposition of an approach dominated by science.
(h)Professor Cammack noted that Bibliometrics will be the focus of the next meetings of the REF Advisory Group on 28 April and 19 June. He invited the committee to send him comments and suggestions in good time to bring to these meetings.
(i)HM mentioned that she intends to convene the next Heads of American Studies meeting before 19 June and would hopefully be able to offer some information and comments from that meeting. She asked whether impact would refer to all research or just submitted research. Professor Cammack could not be sure, but felt that it might be possible for a narrative to address research which had a policy impact even if it was not reflected in specific outputs submitted. He added that one of the options being considered was fewer panels, and consideration of environment at Main Panel or even institutional level.
(j)MH asked if the STEM REF would be a kind of ‘trial run’ for the Arts and Humanities exercise. PC responded that the shape of the exercise might be the same for both but that, for example, the weightings might be different.
(k)IB said the notion of ‘coherence between research councils’ was a bad idea as the councils were so different. However, he acknowledged that the AHRC now has a great emphasis on ‘impact’ (noting a recent feature in THE entitled ‘Humanities Impact on Public Domain’).
(l)HM noted that the primary issue of concern is how ‘impact’ will be measured or defined. Professor Cammack said that there was bound to be leeway in how impact was measured / interpreted but added that BAAS should think about this and participate in the discussion.
(m)SC asked if impact might be measured by a tool like ‘googlescholar’ (in terms of bibliometrics). Professor Cammack said that this had not been mentioned, but added that the Advisory Group were thinking more in terms of ‘take up’ by users. The discussion then turned to the issue of Knowledge Transfer. Both Professor Cammack and HM noted that there will have to be alternative measures developed as the current impression is that we are supplicants rather than drivers of this process.
(n)PD noted that in the end conceptualisation was important. He asked how we might measure things like ‘advisory roles’ which do not necessarily have a paper trail. He added that we offer assistance and expert research advice to teachers, schools, etc. PD asked if these kinds of things might be part of the narrative. Professor Cammack noted that he had no particular information on this although it was clear that things like consultancy (especially to the government) feed into the policy making process. IB noted that there is a danger that examples such as those offered by PD might be perceived as ‘soft’ rather than ‘hard’ data.
(o)MH raised the issue of the perception of American Studies from last RAE, i.e. research submitted did not reflect all the American Studies scholarship entered into the exercise (as much was submitted to other panels). He said that it was necessary for us to be able to track our scholarship in future. He also noted that the league tables had created made a kind of hierarchy and asked Professor Cammack to comment on this. Professor Cammack noted that there is less of a hierarchy than before but acknowledged that league tables had been produced. He reiterated the necessity of an Area Studies panel for the next exercise and added that the situation of research capture was not unique to American Studies. Unfortunately, there is no way of capturing the sum total of work in the field of American Studies submitted elsewhere. Some had been cross-referred to subpanel 47, but much had not. HM said that it might be possible to write to institutions to see where what is considered American Studies work was submitted. Professor Cammack also suggested that the BAAS conference might be the best place to sponsor policy-related panels or media-attractive panels. This might be one way of getting at the essence of ‘impact’.
(p)GL noted institutional confusion about the cross-referral process. He asked if this would this be clearer in the REF. Professor Cammack said that this should have been straightforward, but delays in sending and receiving material had caused practical difficulties. HM added that cross-referrals were received at the discretion of panel to which they were cross-referred.
(q)IS asked if there was a way to ensure that consistency of quality/prestige was maintained across panels. Professor Cammack noted that the only way to maintain quality and criteria would require a massive normalisation process but this was impossible due to different debates and discussions across panels. One could only guarantee the process in procedural rather than substantive terms.
(r)IS noted that narrative about how the submission was interpreted needed tightening and suggested that the REF Advisory Group have a dialogue with VCs about how to utilise the results.
(s)AL asked about timetable – when would we know when we ought to start thinking about our research in terms of impact. Professor Cammack reiterated that we ought to be thinking about ‘impact’ now. He added that the timetable on the website indicates that next year the picture for the REF would be clear. Professor Cammack added that it seemed that the government was working to a very clear template, and that advisors like himself were likely to have influence only at the margins. He concluded that the REF exercise is in large part a mechanism to justify changes that were already coming.
14. Any Other Business
HM reminded that committee that Gary Grubb from the AHRC would make a presentation of the AHRC’s vision at the conference.
HM offered her thank to outgoing committee members: MH, IS, AL, TS and PB.
15. Date of next meeting
The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at Kings College London on Friday 5 June.
Subcom meetings will commence at 10.30am.
Dr. Catherine Morley