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Our Faculty is heartened by the positive results of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2020. These results, we believe, were made possible by many factors, including strategic decisions during the lengthy process of preparation. Equally important, in our view, was the well coordinated collective effort across the entire Faculty. As preparations for the next RAE in 2026 are already on the immediate horizon, we would like to share what we did in this last round to achieve the results that we are pleased to affirm.

Our Faculty achieved outstanding overall RAE 2020 results, interweaving its unique strengths in traditional and non-traditional research, and demonstrating strength across the individually assessed areas of Output, Impact, and Environment. Although we have long formed one of HKBU’s core areas of research, and certain Departments had performed well as Units of Assessment (UoA) in previous RAE exercises, our RAE 2020 results showed marked improvement in combined 4* + 3* scores in all UoAs.  

This achievement came only as a result of thoroughly supported, well-coordinated strategies focusing on all three RAE elements of assessment and continuously evolving over the three Internal Research Assessment Exercises (IRAEs) conducted in 2017-19 through a collective, Faculty-wide process of planning, sharing, reflecting, and revising. This was carried out via a detailed process of inviting external reviewers to assess certain elements according to progress from one IRAE to the next:


  • Result – RAE 2020 results suggest that all UoAs achieved significant combined increases in 4* + 3* outputs and decreases in 1* + U/C outputs over RAE 2014 (noting changes in assessment weighting and UoA categories) 

  • Strategy – Strategies centred on (1) improving 4* + 3* outputs and (2) minimizing 1* + U/C (unclassified) outputs via
    • Careful selection, grouping, and prioritizing of all outputs
    • Continuous improvement of abstracts and 100-/300-word descriptive statements for traditional and non-raditional outputs
    • Building portfolios to document and support non-traditional outputs


  • Result – Our Faculty attained three 4* ratings and three 3* ratings, achieving the most (50%) 4* Impact Case Studies submitted by HKBU

  • Strategy – Strategies centred on rapid building of an overall impact culture spearheaded by individually spotlighted Impact Case Studies via
    • Early identification of potential Impact Case Studies (ICS)
    • Ample support to build Impact Case Studies
    • Aligned approaches to narrating and evidencing impact
    • Developing Impact Overview Statements of at least “internationally excellent” (3*) quality


  • Result – Our Faculty attained three 4* ratings, two 3* ratings, and one 2* rating

  • StrategyStrategies centred on utilizing the RAE preparation process as an opportunity to build long-term research capacity via
    • Implementing new sources of support to underscore advancing Faculty and Departmental environments into the next RAE cycle
    • Developing measured, aligned approaches to narrating our collective research vision
    • Developing Environment Statements of at least “internationally excellent” (3*) quality


  • Result – Our Faculty gained distinction both among Hong Kong institutions and within HKBU:
    ৹   We were the only HKBU Faculty/School/AVA with two departments attaining the position of best performer among all Hong Kong institutions in the UoAs in considering the proportions of 
        ♦  “Internationally excellent” (3*) and “world leading” (4*) research projects 

            ◊  Humanities & Creative Writing
            ◊ Music
        ♦  “World leading” (4*) research projects alone 
            ◊  Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies
            ◊  Music

       We were the only HKBU Faculty/School/AVA with UoAs achieving “world leading” (4*) quality in both Impact and Environment
        ♦  Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies
        ♦  Music

  • StrategyStrategies centred on giving equally high priority to Outputs, Impact, and Environment, irrespective of their assessment weighting
    • As evidenced from the overall results, our UoAs focused maximum effort on all three elements of research assessment
    • Optimal results were achieved by raising the minimum level of excellence in all areas
    • Strong performance in Impact and Environment served to highlight traditional and emerging research strengths in our UoAs relative to other Hong Kong institutions.


Summary points of the RAE 2020 preparation process:

  • Following the RAE 2014, our Faculty began committing itself to early preparation of the RAE 2020, engaging external reviewers in early internal “mock” RAE (IRAE) exercises, even as the Framework for RAE 2020 was still taking shape between May and October 2017

  • We quickly responded to the new RAE 2020 Framework (in conjunction with HKBU), with its added emphasis on Impact, in fall 2017 and vigorously enacted an updated Mock RAE Action Plan and timeline
    • The plan included establishing and coordinating RAE task forces at Faculty and Departmental levels
    • It also included immediate efforts to develop Impact Case Studies in consultation with experienced international reviewers
  • Through 2018-19, in addition to strengthening and publishing research Outputs, We prioritized coordinated development of English-language content and narrative among the Departments for (1) Impact Case Studies, (2) Impact and Environment Overview Statements, (3) abstracts and 100-/300-word statements for traditional (text-based) and non-traditional (creative practice) outputs in order to better articulate our research culture to the RAE 2020 panel and the public at large

  • We achieved tangible improvement in content and narrative through a committed process of drafting and revision, in consultation with experienced international reviewers from leading academic institutions

  • We continuously and flexibly coordinated its collective preparation from early response (2017) to shortly before submission (2019)

  • We began planning for long-term research development, including the RAE 2026, during the RAE 2020 preparation process

  • We implemented new initiatives from 2020 aimed at long-term development and RAE 2026 preparation involving the three elements of assessment
      Outputs – Developing non-traditional research output competencies and cultivating traditional outputs that draw upon creative practice
        ♦  The new Faculty's Practice as Research (PaR) Workshop series is presented twice a year and open to participants within and outside HKBU

      Impact – Embedding and generating Impact in all areas of research
        ♦  The new Faculty's Impact Workshop series is presented twice a year on topics related to Impact Case Studies, Pathways to Impact statements for GRF and other grants; and general impact culture
        ♦  The new Faculty's Research Impact Fund has already begun providing support for early impact development across the Faculty

      Environment – Utilizing all new research initiatives to enhance, share, and align with environment-building efforts across the University, Faculty, and Departments

Encouraged by our achievement as a top-performing Faculty in the RAE 2020, the Faculty is committed to further developing its culture of research excellence throughout the wide variety of scholarly activities and creative practices pursued by our researchers.