Text drawn from the RQR Report of 2015 for the CACSSS Research Spotlight
History of Art is a small but autonomous Department within the School of History. The
Department produces high-quality research outputs across a range of fields and periods, and has managed to develop a positive and forward-looking research environment. Given FTE numbers, the Department has maintained a healthy PGR community and there
is good evidence of outward-facing research activity in the form of public and international engagement.
There is strong evidence that the Department is producing work of very high quality by
international standards, some of it world leading. There is hardly any tail and no outputs scored below ‘good’. By any measure this is a highly impressive record, especially
given the resourcing challenges noted above. There is notable variety in publications, in terms of format and venue. A number of outputs have been published in internationally esteemed, high-visibility journals or with highly regarded university presses. Others have been published with presses of less robust reputations, or in publications of more local/national interest/reputation.
Overall, the evaluation of this RAI is exceptionally strong: 89% of submissions are scored at ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. This is an impressive achievement and demonstrates a high level of productivity without sacrificing quality. The total published output of the Department has been demonstrated to be of a very good standard.
Despite its limited resources, the Department has developed and sustained a decent range of research related activities, notably in the forms of hosted conferences and curated exhibitions. The Department has sensibly capitalised on Cork’s vibrant artistic community in these and public engagement activities. In particular, the establishment of the Eye and Mind forum has made the Department more visible as a locus for visual arts and media research across the University, attracting a number of distinguished international speakers. There is some evidence of external examining and peer reviewing for presses and journals. There
remain opportunities for broader collaboration with colleagues across the university, not least the Glucksman and Crawford galleries. The research-related activity of the Department has been demonstrated to be of a good standard.
Given its small size, PGR provision in the Department is remarkably strong. A good number of full-time PhD students work on an array of topics, in a programme fed largely by the Department’s taught MA and undergraduate degrees. Uptake in the MA programme is variable but healthy, at between six and 12 students per annum. Quality of teaching and research expertise are clearly important factors in the Department’s success, as is the University’s support for the PGR programme in the form of studentships. The latter is to be both commended and encouraged, given the challenging HE funding situation in Ireland. The PGR community seems lively and ambitious, notably in relation to conferences organised and outputs produced. The Department is making efforts to recruit internationally, drawing on the
University’s North American contacts. The postgraduate research education of the Department has been demonstrated to be of a very good standard.
Key areas of good practice include:
• High quality of published outputs.
• Ambitious programme of research activity.
• Healthy PGR community.
• Capitalising on local artistic community.
Given its small size and resourcing challenges, the Department is punching above its weight. The University has an excellent research resource in the Department’s FTE researchers, who should be given every support. Additional resourcing, strategic guidance, and the encouragement of collaboration with other units will fully unlock the enormous potential of the Department and support its continuing production of world-leading research outputs.
The research activity of the Department has been demonstrated to be of a very good standard in terms of originality, significance and rigour comparable with such work internationally.