Friday, 9 September 2016

Illustrating the special importance of books to the Arts and Humanities

The importance of books is clear for the Arts and Humanities in the UK as indicated by approximately ¼ of all submissions to the REF in book form and in addition book chapters remain an important factor in submission.

These heatmap visualisations for the Academic Book of the Future quickly illustrates the stark differences in forms of scholarly communication across UK HE.

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The importance of books is a stark point of difference with the other REF subject areas:
  • Panel A submitted less than 50 books in total, plus 55 books chapters, with 99.5% of submissions as journal articles.
  • Panel B submitted 94.4% journal articles with 210 book chapters (~0.4%) and some 120 books.
  • Panel C is the most like Panel D but even here books only account for 8% of the total submissions with another 7.9% as book chapters. They submitted 81.5% as journal articles.
The importance of books is clear for the Arts and Humanities. Authored books account for a range from 9% to 25% of submissions with an overall average in Panel D of 16.6% of submissions. If we add on edited books and scholarly editions then the average submission rises to 21.7% of the total.

The fabled death of the book chapter as a research output for the REF2014 is not borne out by the submissions from Arts and Humanities. An average of 26.4% were book chapters (range: 18-37%) and thus these remain a very significant mode of scholarly communication. Classics submitted 37% book chapters compared to 29% journal articles which suggests a slightly different pattern of publication to other subjects in Arts and Humanities but this research has no further substantiating data to support a conjecture as to why.

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These results shown here will form part of the report forthcoming from The Academic Book of the Future project (funded by the AHRC/BL),

UPDATE: The final report is available here, as well as all associated research data.


  1. Sorry but I don't quite know what Panel A, B, C, and D represent. Can you point me to definitions? Interesting findings, however.

    1. I am afraid there is no easy answer to your question as the Panels are defined by the subject areas that make them up and are not named in any other way than the Panel name. The only definitions are here:

      However, we would generally assume from their makeup that the Panels conform to rough boundaries such as:

      Panel A = Medicine and health sciences (the M of STEM)

      1 Clinical Medicine
      2 Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care
      3 Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy
      4 Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
      5 Biological Sciences
      6 Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science

      Panel B = Science, Technology and Engineering (the STE of STEM)

      7 Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
      8 Chemistry
      9 Physics
      10 Mathematical Sciences
      11 Computer Science and Informatics
      12 Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering
      13 Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials
      14 Civil and Construction Engineering
      15 General Engineering

      Panel C = Social Sciences, but very roughly so

      16 Architecture, Built Environment and Planning
      17 Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology
      18 Economics and Econometrics
      19 Business and Management Studies
      20 Law
      21 Politics and International Studies
      22 Social Work and Social Policy
      23 Sociology
      24 Anthropology and Development Studies
      25 Education
      26 Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

      Panel D = Arts and Humanities

      27 Area Studies
      28 Modern Languages and Linguistics
      29 English Language and Literature
      30 History
      31 Classics
      32 Philosophy
      33 Theology and Religious Studies
      34 Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory
      35 Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts
      36 Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management

      I also wrote a blog about our performance in the last REF that may be of interest also as background to the process: