Languages Research

Research in modern languages in the UK continues to be both varied and prolific. Government belief in our field is slowly growing, and we have the strong support of the British Academy and the APPG, which have both benefited from close collaboration with UCML. But, as a key field in the humanities, we also face a number of challenges, in the UK and in Europe, in relation both to our own research and that of younger researchers.

This area of the site focuses on information, updates, organisations and projects of relevance to languages research and is updated by UCML Vice Chair for Research Naomi Segal.

REF results published

The REF results were published on Thursday 18 December. For full information, see , and the documents attached to this page. Within Modern Languages & Linguistics a total of 57 UoAs were returned, of which five HEIs returned two submissions, an A and a B.

Because of the changed parameters of submission, it is not possible to compare the numbers of returns or success rate to those in RAE 2008. But it can be noted that Languages & Linguistics have held their own well in relation to 'cognate' fields in the Arts & Humanities (see table below).

In early 2015, HEFCE will publish the submissions on the REF website. For each submission they will publish: a separate list of staff and outputs; the submitted case studies and impact template; and the submitted environment data and template. They will remove personal and contractual details of staff, and any other data that the HEI has indicated should not be published for commercial sensitivity or other reasons. HEIs have had the opportunity to provide redacted versions of case studies, impact templates and environment templates for the purpose of publication.
In early 2015 HEFCE will publish panel overview reports. A report by each main panel, including sections from each sub-panel, will detail how the assessment was carried out, provide an overview of the panels’ observations about the state of research in the areas falling within its remit, and general reflections on the submissions and their assessment.

Though most UCML HEIs submitted to Sub-panel 28 (MLL), a number submitted to Sub-panel 27, Area Studies. The summary data for both Sub-panels are appended here.

Documents appended to this page (see right):

  • Doc 1: REF 2014 all fields all aspects (shows GPAs for all subjects all submissions)
  • Doc 2: REF 2014 full information
  • Doc 3: Brief Guide
  • Doc 4: REF 2014 summary data 28: Average profiles Modern Languages & Linguistics
  • Doc 5: REF 2014 summary data 27: Average profiles Area Studies
GPA (grade point average)


output impact
Languages and Linguistics: 2.96 2.86 3.12
English Language & Literature 3.03 2.94 3.15
History 3.04 2.96 3.18
Classics 3.08 2.97 3.27


Open Access

In January 2014, HEFCE set up an Expert Reference Group chaired by Geoff Crossick to look into the specific problems of monograph publishing and open access for humanities & social sciences; see The terms of reference and the 'Note' requesting responses are appemded here, as is UCML's response, sent on 16 September 2014.

The main five points made are:

  • The definition of ‘monograph’ which is used by the ERG is extremely broad, including – as well as the traditional meaning of a single-authored book covering a single topic in a series of chapters – an edited collection and a scholarly edition; this raises various problems, not least in relation to edited collections of essays, since these, which represent a major outlet for authors in our field, can be a version of  ‘conference proceedings’ (which are included in HEFCE’s OA condition for the future REF, whereas ‘monographs’ are not).
  • Monographs are indeed extremely important to researchers in our field, as both authors and readers.
  • Particularly important in our field is publication in languages other than English & outside the UK.
  • When taking comparative soundings we particularly recommend international comparisons.
  • Guidance is welcome in the maze of emerging new publishers and modes of OA publication.

Other initiatives on the question of Open Access & monograph publishing are listed in the UCML response.

The UCML response to an earlier HEFCE consultation was sent in March 2013; both it and the call are still appended here for info.



Following the July Plenary Exec Committee meeting, Paul Rowlett wrote to directors of all the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnerships [DTPs] and Centres for Doctoral Training [CDTs] (see ) asking them, in the light of AHRC's intention to question DTP directors about the support (or lack of it) provided for vulnerable subjects such as modern languages, or where awards are not made across the subject range, what strategies they are proactively implementing to ensure that gifted students in modern languages are aware of the funding opportunities you are offering on behalf of the AHRC, and are encouraged to engage with the scheme and to apply.

Replies were received from all DTPs/CDTs. Most of these were very positive. Key main points:

  • A number emphasised their support for ML and reported successes in recruiting excellent ML students already.
  • Others – including one that specialises in design – stressed their support and interest in recruiting interdisciplinary students with an ML angle.
  • Several emphasised that they encouraged their students to take up research training in languages.
  • Two (South, W & W and WRoCAH) have an ML Open Day and an ML ‘cluster’, respectively, and are particularly interested in this field.

There was considerable interest in maintaining acommunication with UCML, and we were asked to publicise their calls, Open Days etc.


AHRC new Leadership Fellowship scheme

UCML joined other member organisations of AHA (Arts & Humanities Alliance; formerly AHUG: Arts & Humanities User Group) in signing a letter to AHRC about their new Leadership Fellowship scheme; see  

Main points made:

  • The term ‘leadership’ remains unclear.
  • The privileging of leadership is yet another shift of emphasis away from quality of scholarship towards entrepreneurship and management in the allocation of research funding.
  • The emphasis on leadership is particularly worrying in relation to ECRs.


AHRC event for PRC and ECRs

AHRC held an event for its Peer Review College members and Early Career Researchers on 28 November 2014 at Warwick University, with two aims: (i) to understand the current position of Languages and Linguistics from a peer reviewer’s perspective; and (ii) to support ECR development in respect of applying for grants.
I have been invited to serve on a Research Focussed Panel Discussion with four panel members, each of whom is asked to give a 5 min introduction to the subjects below:

  • Hot topics in Languages and Linguistics
  • Topics in decline
  • Changing culture in the Languages and Linguistics discipline community
  • The balance between individual scholarship and team working

The powerpoint I presented is appended to this page.


European Perspectives: Horizon 2020

A short introduction to the EU's Horizon 2020 Research Framework is appended.


European Perspectives: HERA

In preparation for its major new trans-national funding initiative ‘Uses of the Past,’ HERA is currently inviting researchers to apply to attend a matchmaking event, taking place in Tallinn, Estonia on 29 January 2015.

The Uses of the Past call will be formally launched in January 2015. The aim of the matchmaking event is to present the call and associated information, and to facilitate the building of international research partnerships in preparation. Early Career Researchers as well as more senior academics are eligible to apply from the United Kingdom, as long as their field of research falls within the AHRC’s subject domain. See