Category: REF 2021

Hitting the QR sweet spot: will new REF2021 rules lead to a different kind of game-playing?

Today marks 999 days until the expected deadline for submissions to REF 2021. Universities’ preparations are already well under way, with additional guidance published last autumn in the form of new REF rules designed to reduce game-playing behaviours among institutions. However, as Simon Kerridge observes, the rule changes may have introduced, or rather enhanced, some hidden dangers around universities’ FTE […]

Resist? Welcome? Co-opt? Ignore? The pressures and possibilities of the REF and impact

The increased focus on impact in research evaluation represents a range of possibilities and pressures to those academics whose work is being assessed. For some it offers an opportunity to progress social justice causes and engage in participatory, bottom-up research approaches with less powerful groups; while to others it is further evidence of the managerial audit culture that is corrupting […]

Where’s the evidence? Obstacles to impact-gathering and how researchers might be better supported in future

Despite the increased importance of demonstrating impact, it remains a concept many academics feel ill-equipped to measure or evidence. Clare Wilkinson reveals how researchers from a broad range of disciplines think about evidencing impact, what obstacles might stand in their way, and how they might be further supported in future. Knowledge around research impact continues to exist in siloes, with […]

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 […]

Increasing REF’s impact weighting could offer incentive for institutions to address societal, economic and global challenges

Challenges posed by events such as Brexit highlight the importance of excellent research programmes. Moreover, they represent a broader context in which the next Research Excellence Framework must consider ‘impact’. But do current REF proposals go far enough towards doing this? Matthew Guest argues that there is not enough of an incentive for institutions to address heightened societal, economic and […]