PLANNING FOR THE RESEARCH EXCELLENCE FRAMEWORK AT GCU. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the new system for assessing research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). It replaces the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the new system for assessing research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs).
The REF will be a process of expert review. Institutions will be invited to make submissions to 36 units of assessment (UoAs).
The submissions will be assessed by an expert sub-panel to be established for each UoA, working under the guidance of four main panels to ensure common procedures and consistent application of the overall assessment standards
Under current plans for the REF, three distinct elements will be assessed for each submission:
The profile method of assessing research quality introduced
in RAE2008 will be used for REF2014:
4* World leading
3* Internationally Excellent
2* Internationally Recognised
1* Nationally Recognised
Main Panels covering 4 broad categories of “related” disciplines
A: Health, Medicine and Biological Sciences
B: Physical Sciences and Engineering
C: Economic and Social Sciences
D: Arts and Humanities
These Main Panels will take an overview of reports from
the work of subpanels reviewing specific Units of
REF2014 will have fewer, larger sub panel UoAs.
There will be 36 Panels in REF2014 (c.f. 68 for RAE2008)
GCU made 14 submissions in 13 separate Units of Assessment
As a result of changes to Panel structure, the subject
submissions made by GCU in RAE2008 fall into 12 new
REF2014 Units of Assessment
Larger units of assessment, broadly of similar size (1000 FTE)
Fewer but larger submissions likely in each UoA (c.f. RAE2008)
Bulk of quality scores will be based on assessment of research
outputs (ca 60 % on publications)
Significant emphasis on research environment (ca 20 %)
Need to demonstrate wider research impact at research
grouping level (ca 20 %) based on report of pilot exercises*
Funding reward likely for research excellence (i.e. 4* and
3* International quality levels) only
Expert review of case studies is an appropriate means of assessing impact
It is essential that impact should be defined broadly to include social, economic, cultural, environmental, health and quality of life benefits.
Impact purely within academia should not be included in this part of the REF
It is clear from the pilot study that impacts are not just economic or STEM subject related.
The Expert Panels reported that arts and humanities subjectscan be assessed for impact using appropriate discipline specific indicators.
REF panels will develop more detailed guidance on what constitutes impact in their disciplines.
This should include guidance about the types of impacts and indicators anticipated from research in their disciplines, expanding on the initial list provided by the funding bodies, and guidance on what constitutes ‘interim’ impact.
The guidance should be flexible enough to allow for a wide variety of impacts and indicators, including impacts that panels may not
Feedback from Pilot Institutions
Conveying meaning of REF non-academic impact to academic groups was found to be non-trivial
There was an unforeseen need for a major communication exercise, extensive discussion and bilateral exchange in developing impact case studies .
There was a substantial amount of work and iteration involved. for many staff across all of the institutions.
The development of illustrative case studies helped with the process
The need to obtain evidence relating impact to high quality research retrospectively is problematic and will require the development of appropriate information systems not currently in place.
However on the whole, case studies were endorsed by pilot institutions
as a good method of capturing research impact
Scheduling of mock REF exercises with University Research Committee
Equality and diversity code of practice in relation to REF selection process
Alignment of research group themes with REF requirements and development
of possible UoA strategies (Panel guidance , 2011)
Modelling of REF UoA submission scenarios via RIMS database
Targeting of high quality new publications to achieve maximum academic
impact to support developing narrative in time remaining
Strategic focus in seeking high quality peer reviewed research grants
specifically to support the developing narrative
Development of case studies of research impact linked to previous
outputs /activity prior to RAE2008
Update of research website with developing research narrative