Category: REF 2014

Rather than promoting economic value, evaluation can be reclaimed by universities to combat its misuse and negative impacts

To critics across higher education, evaluation frameworks such as the REF and TEF represent mechanisms of control, the generation of a “target and terror” culture. Deirdre Duffy explains how the REF and TEF resonate most closely with impact evaluation, a form of evaluation that can prove useful for a simple cost-benefit analysis but can also be problematic as it encourages […]

Credit for research outputs should go to the originating institution but with a transitional arrangement for this REF cycle

One of the most contentious aspects of the Stern review of the 2014 REF was the recommendation that research outputs should not be portable in future exercises. The subsequent consultation revealed a significant minority to be in support of this, echoing Stern’s concerns that current rules distort investment incentives and encourage rent-seeking. However, a majority opposed this recommendation as stifling […]

The 2014 REF results show only a very weak relationship between excellence in research and achieving societal impact

Results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework have, in some quarters, been interpreted as evidence of a direct relationship between the quality of scientific outputs and the degree of societal impact generated by researchers. However, such an interpretation, allied to definitions of impact such as that used by Research Councils UK, arguably promotes a stronger reading of the REF results […]

What does the future hold for academic books?

Between August 2014 and September 2016, the Academic Book of the Future Project, initiated by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Library, explored the current and future status of the traditional academic monograph. Marilyn Deegan, one of the co-investigators on the project and author of the project report, reflects on its findings, welcoming them as an opportunity to open […]

The REF’s focus on linear and direct impact is problematic and silences certain types of research

In the last Research Excellence Framework (REF), the new element of research impact was understood in very linear and direct terms. Aoileann Ní Mhurchú, Laura McLeod, Stephanie Collins and Gabriel Siles-Brügge consider how accepted definitions of impact may have had the effect of silencing certain types of research. Research and impact should be seen as a two-way street, where academics […]

The starting pistol has been fired – now is the time to heed the drive towards open access books

The Consultation on the Second Research Excellence Framework (REF) revealed funding bodies’ intention to extend open access policy to also include monographs by the time of the third REF in the mid-2020s. Despite this being some time away, Martin Eve argues that preparations must begin now. The economic challenges of publishing open access monographs are clear, so time should be […]

The importance of being REF-able: academic writing under pressure from a culture of counting

Writing is crucial to an academic’s role of producing, shaping and distributing knowledge. However, academic writing itself is increasingly being shaped by the contemporary university’s managerial practices and evaluation frameworks. Sharon McCulloch describes how her research on academics’ writing practices has revealed tensions around the ways in which managerial practices interact with academics’ individual career goals, disciplinary values and sense […]

What impact evidence was used in REF 2014? Disciplinary differences in how researchers demonstrate and assess impact

A new report produced by the Digital Science team explores the types of evidence used to demonstrate impact in REF2014 and pulls together guidance from leading professionals on good practice. Here Tamar Loach and Martin Szomszor present a broad look at the the types of evidence in use in the REF impact case studies and reflect on the association between use of evidence […]