Research takes world stage

Using the Internet has become  second nature to most people today. You can search for any subject or person you can think of and receive thousands of responses in a split second. But few of us fully understand the processes involved in such a search, how much web traffic is analysed to produce the results or how the ambiguity of language can affect even the most simple of searches.


At the University of Wolverhampton, experts are working on complex research studies into these areas, and many more, ranging from Aeronautical Engineering to Library and Information Management. Talented staff are undertaking excellent work which has a wide-ranging impact and drives innovation in the public and private sectors.


Academic Schools within the University have areas of research strength and there are several cross-disciplinary Research Institutes and formally constituted Research Centres.


And the latest figures have officially confirmed that Wolverhampton has research which is now ranked among the best in the world.


The results from the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), a peer review exercise to evaluate the quality of research in UK higher education institutions, show significant areas of strength.


RAE 2008 is a discipline-based expert review process in which judgements on the quality of research are made by researchers active in that field. It includes the views of international experts in all the main subject areas.


As well as reviewing more than 200,000 pieces of research work submitted for assessment, panel members assessed the research environment and esteem indicators in each submission.


Wolverhampton has improved overall, and exceeded its expected grade point average.


Particular strengths indentified in the RAE include Statistical Cybermetrics (advanced analysis of web content and traffic) for which it is ranked 4th in the UK, and Computational Linguistics, which is the computer-based analysis of text and is now ranked 6th in the UK.


Architecture and the Built Environment had 10% rated at 4*, the top rating, as did Art and Design, while Allied Health Professions and Studies; Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering; Education; and History all had 5% rated at 4*.


Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline Gipps, is extremely pleased with the latest results and has thanked staff for their hard work, particularly the research-active staff, the RAE reading panel and the Research and Graduate School.


“A significant percentage of our research is equivalent to the best in the world and that is something we should be very proud of. Eight of our 11 units of assessment had a percentage of research of world-leading quality and all of our submissions had internationally excellent work.


“A tremendous amount of effort has gone into this and the results are a fantastic vindication of this work. It has been an extremely successful enterprise.”


There has been much analysis of the results and Wolverhampton has climbed various league tables which have been created, including a rise of eight places in the Times Higher Table of Excellence, placing the University 93 out of 132 institutions. There was also a rise of three places to 87th in Research Fortnight’s RAE 2008 Power Table.


Professor Jean Gilkison, Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, says: “These are very pleasing results, particularly within a difficult funding climate.


The fact we have such a spread of four-star research is a very good sign and very heartening.


“Overall, the University’s grade point average has exceeded expectations at 2.01, which means that our research is of internationally recognised quality.


“This is a real feather in our cap and clearly demonstrates the talent and ability which exists at the University alongside our excellent teaching and nationally recognised knowledge transfer activities.”


To find out more about research at the University of Wolverhampton see