Feature

Department of Media and Communication Named the Best of Its Discipline in Hong Kong Again

Result's RAE 2014 in Communication & Media Studies

Source: http://wwww.ugc.edu.hk/eng/doc/ugc/rae/rae2014results.pdf

According to the results of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2014, announced by the University Grants Committee (UGC) in late January this year, over 40% of the research undertaken by CityU attained "international excellence". This puts CityU into the top four Hong Kong universities. The performance of Department of Media and Communication (COM) is particularly noteworthy, as 60% of its research projects were categorised as "internationally excellent" — the best amongst Hong Kong's communication departments. Dr Zhou HE, Associate Head of the department, is exhilarated by the assessment result, which may constitute a factor in UGC's research funding allocation for the next triennium.

The RAE 2014 assessed the research output of the eight UGC-funded institutions, covering the period from October 2007 to September 2013. Thirteen disciplines were assessed, including health sciences, business and economics, physical sciences and social sciences. It was the first time that a five-category rating system was adopted. A four-star research project is worldleading; a three-star one is internationally excellent; two stars means international standing; one star implies regional standing; while unclassified means the project does not meet the definition of research output for RAE 2014. Over 200 local and non-local distinguished scholars took part in the assessment exercise, which was performed based on research output, external competitive peer-reviewed research grants and esteem measures of the disciplinary submissions.

COM excelled in this RAE: 60 per cent of its research is ranked as threestar or four-star (internationally excellent or above). The department is in essence the leader in research among the communication and media departments in the local universities.

Encouraging RAE results again

Dr He stresses that the COM had already obtained outstanding results in the last RAE, conducted in 2006, and he is exhilarated by the encouraging results again in this. He is also proud of the dedicated researchers and teachers of the department.

Dr He adds that media and communication research, in particular quantitative studies, has always been a traditional strength of the department. The department has also shown outstanding performance in other areas, including international communication, new media communication and political communication. "Our research projects have been primarily focused on Chinese communities because we want to bring out the significance of localisation of communication studies. To that end, our studies are positioned to look at local issues with an international perspective in the hope of putting forward theories and issues of global concern through local research."

As research into communication studies originated from the West, existing theories were constructed upon Western cultural elements. Dr He believes that our future research must break away from the application of Western theories onto Chinese-speaking regions, and studies must be elevated to the international level. He hopes that CityU will continue to contribute to the academic and educational fields in Hong Kong and the Greater China region through its research in various disciplines, under the approach of "studying globalisation in the local context and localising international studies".

Future outlook of COM

The RAE 2014 results will be used by the UGC to inform its annual allocation of the Research Portion of the UGC Block Grant. The results, therefore, have actual impact on institutional resources. After the department was assessed as the top performing media and communication department across all institutions in RAE 2006, Dr He hopes that better research outputs can lead to more commendation and support, in terms of funding, teaching resources, etc., which in turn provide stronger support for further research projects.

The department is well staffed. There are a total of 62 teachers in the field of media and communication studies across the eight UGC-funded institutions in Hong Kong. Fifteen of them, or one-fourth of all Hong Kong teachers of the discipline, are teaching at CityU.

There are also a number of distinguished Chinese scholars in the department. "There are no more than 20 outstanding Chinese researchers in the global scene of media studies, and five or six of them are with us," said Dr He. He also reveals that the department is planning to increase the size of its teaching and research staff by hiring more researchers. Dr He also hopes that the department will continue to excel in the next RAE by UGC.