The objective of the Research Excellence Framework is to allocate block funding to Higher Education Institutions on the basis of research quality.
The REF2014 will assess the research quality of Higher Education Institutions across the UK in the period 2008 - 2013, in order that research funding can be distributed selectively on the basis of the results from 2015 onwards.
The Scottish Funding Council currently distributes the Research Excellence Grant on the basis of RAE2008 results. The REF will also take into account the government's aim that high quality, publicly funded research should have wider benefits beyond academia.
A succession of research assessments since 1986 have determined the level of government funding for research in UK Higher Education through one element of the dual support system. An annual block grant supports research infrastructure and allows universities to undertake research of their choosing. This funding is allocated selectively on the basis of quality, the assessment process being carried out by the Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of funding bodies in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The other aspect of the dual support system is funding through Research Councils UK. The seven Research Councils receive money from the government's Science Budget, administered through the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, to provide support for specific projects and programmes. This funding is awarded on the basis of individual applications, which are peer reviewed.
The block funding for research from the Scottish Funding Council (Research Excellence Grant) is currently determined by a measure involving a weighting for Volume (number of staff submitted to RAE, number of research students, research assistants, and amount of research income) and Quality (based on RAE performance profiles for each UoA). From 2012 -13 the quality rating is even more highly skewed towards funding for 3* and 4* research, with no funding for research assessed in RAE2008 as 2* or 1* quality.
University research funding until 2015 will be determined to a large extent by the results of RAE2008. After that date it is intended that the results of REF will be used to inform government research funding, however the Scottish Funding Council have not yet confirmed their position on this.
- February 2011 Panel membership announced
- March 2011 detailed timetable finalised
- July 2011 Guidance on submissions published
- July 2011 draft Panel Criteria and Working Methods published for consultation
- 5th October 2011 end of consultation period on draft Panel Criteria
- January 2012 publication of finalised Main Panel Criteria and Working Methods
- 31st July 2012 - final deadline for Higher Education Insitutions to submit their Codes of Practice on selection of staff
- 31st July 2013 end of assessment period for impact, environment and data on income, PGR students
- 31st October 2013 census date for staff eligible for selection
- 31st December 2013 end of publication period for inclusion in REF Outputs section, and outputs underpinning impact case studies
- 2014 Panels assess submissions, with outcomes published December 2014
- REF results to inform Research Excellence Grant funding from 2015
The introduction of impact into the REF is an important addition to the assessment of research activity. This change is directly linked to policy statements by the former Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills in the document Higher Ambitions. In a letter to HEFCE in January 2009, the Secretary of State emphasised that the REF should take better account of the impact of research on the economy and society, and that:
'The REF should continue to incentivise research excellence, but also reflect the quality of researchers' contribution to public policy making and public engagement, and not create disincentives to researchers moving between academia and the private sector.'
Impact is defined by HEFCE as covering 'economic and social benefits that are built on research of the highest quality'. It does not include impact through intellectual influence on scientific knowledge and academia, or impact on students and teaching within the same Higher Education Institution. For REF, impacts occurring in the assessment period (1st Jan 2008 - 31st July 2013) must be linked to previous underpinning research or research-based activity, which has been supported by the institution claiming the impact. The underpinning research must also reach a threshold of quality defined as 'recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.'
HEFCE have now published details of the types of impact and examples of evidence to support claims for impact in the Main Panel Criteria and Working Methods. For more detail on Impact at Strathclyde go to the Researchers' Portal
|maximum of 4 outputs per submitted person, with reduction for early career researchers and individual circumstances||two impact case studies for first 2 - 14.99 FTE submitted, plus one study per additional 10 submitted staff. UoA level statement||UoA level narrative on research environment, plus quantitative indicators on research degrees awarded and research income|
|assessed by expert review panels, with citation data provided to some sub panels||assessed by expert review panels which include end-users of research||assessed by expert review panels, informed by HESA data on research income and doctoral degrees awarded|
- Main Panel Criteria and Working Methods published January 2012 after a period of consultation with HEIs
- Guidance on Submissions released July 2011
- HEFCE release recommendations of the expert panels for the Impact Pilot (November 2010)
- David Willetts has announced that REF has been delayed until 2013. The assessment phase of the REF will now take place during 2014 to inform funding from 2015-16
- The structure of main panels and the units of assessment have been announced
- The Chairs designate of the four Main Panels have been confirmed
- The majority of sub panel members have been appointed. Additional assessors will be appointed to fill gaps in expertise in the sub panels.
- Detailed timetable and census dates announced in March 2011
As a key measure to support equality and diversity in research careers, in all UOAs individuals may be returned with fewer than four outputs without penalty in the assessment, where their individual circumstances have significantly constrained their ability to produce four outputs or to work productively throughout the assessment period. This measure is intended to encourage institutions to submit all their eligible staff who have produced excellent research.
These circumstances are those that are clearly defined (early career status, part time working, career breaks and secondments, maternity, paternity or adoption leave) and those which are complex (periods of ill health or injury, caring responsibilities, or constraints related to maternity, paternity or adoption leave which are additional to the clearly defined period away from research activity.)
HEIs are allowed to submit four outputs against any researcher in the REF regardless of any individual circumstances during the REF period. A minimum of one output must be listed against each individual submitted to the REF.
The University of Strathclyde will be collecting details of any individual circumstances from all staff who are eligible for REF inclusion, using a confidential online system. For more information Strathclyde staff can go to the R & KE Portal