In communications released over the summer period and in late November, HEFCE have confirmed many important aspects of the requirements for the next Research Excellence Framework, REF 2021.
Outcomes and weightings
- Five-point scale: 4* – Unclassified
- Weightings: Outputs –60%, Impact –25%; Environment –15%
HEFCE are implementing Lord Stern’s recommendations to decouple staff and outputs. The number of outputs submitted will be determined by the FTE of staff submitted in each Unit of Assessment, with the flexibility to allow minimum and maximum number of outputs per staff member
- Minimum 1 and maximum 5 outputs per individual
- Average of 2.5 outputs per FTE
- For REF2021, outputs may be submitted both by the institution employing a researcher on the census date (31 July 2020), and by the institution where the researcher was previously employed when the output was demonstrably generated
- ‘Demonstrably generated’ – when the output was first made publicly available
- Impact remains with institution where research was generated
- Impact must be underpinned by excellent research of minimum 2* quality
- 1 January 2000 -31 December 2020 for underpinning research; 1 August 2013 -31 July 2020 for impacts
- Definitions of impact will be broadened
- Impact on teaching at the submitting institution will be counted
- Case studies continued from examples submitted in 2014 will be eligible
- Minimum 2 case studies per Unit of Assessment
Submission of staff
All staff with significant responsibility for research will be returned to REF 2021.
Starting point of identifying ‘total pool of category A eligible staff’:
- 0.2 full-time equivalent (FTE) or greater
- primary employment function is to undertake either ‘research only’ or ‘teaching and research’
- substantive connection with the submitting institution
- and they must be independent researchers (i.e. not research assistants
In institutions that are confident that all Category A Eligible staff have ‘significant responsibility’, 100% of those staff should be submitted. In institutions where the basic criteria for ‘Category A Eligible’ staff does not accurately identify only those staff with significant responsibility for research, a smaller group of ‘Category A Submitted’ staff can be identified—those staff with ‘significant responsibility for research’.
Significant responsibility for research: ‘those for whom explicit time and resources are made available to engage actively in independent research, and that is an expectation of their job role.’ (REF 2017/04)
The criteria for determining who should be included in this category should be determined by each HEI. The process must be developed collaboratively in consultation with staff, and relate to standard ways of working at the institution. It should be written into a Code of Practice.
As mentioned in the previous post, HEFCE published their initial decisions on a number of aspects of REF 2021. Long awaited decisions on staff submission (including minimum and maximum number of outputs) and output portability are due to come out in autumn, following a consultation (a second one) with HEIs.
HEFCE has invited institutions to submit their views on the proposed approaches related to the above aspects (deadline 29 September). These approaches can be found here.
HEFCE’s proposed development timetable for REF 2021
||Invite nominations for panel members
Further decisions on the arrangements for submitting staff and outputs
||Panels meet to develop criteria
|Summer to Autumn 2018
||Publish draft guidance, and consultation on panel criteria
||Publish final guidance and criteria
||Complete preparation of submission systems
For REF2014, individual research outputs were assessed on the basis of three types of evidence:
- the output itself
- a supporting portfolio
- information about the research process and/or context
For the last of these, universities were able to submit 300 word statements. Although these were not compulsory, almost all submissions of research outputs included such statements, using the 300 words to explain succinctly how the output met the criteria against which REF outputs are judged: originality, significance and rigour.
The 300 word statements were particularly importantly for practice-based research. It’s arguable that a written output (eg a book, chapter or journal article) should already contain a clear and concise explanation of its originality, significance and rigour—although there is nothing to be lost by summarising this in a short additional statement. However, for practice-based research, the 300 words statement is essential to set out the basis and merits of the research.
This is how the REF defines each of the criteria used for judging outputs:
A creative/intellectual advance that makes an important and innovative contribution to understanding and knowledge. This may include:
- substantive empirical findings
- new arguments, interpretations or insights
- imaginative scope
- assembling of information in an innovative way
- development of new theoretical frameworks and conceptual models
- innovative methodologies and/or new forms of expression
The enhancement of,
- and/or practice
- intellectual coherence
- methodological precision and analytical power
- accuracy and depth of scholarship
- awareness of and appropriate engagement with other relevant work
There has been no indication that these criteria will be revised for REF2021, or that the facility to submit 300 word statements will change. As part of preparations for REF2021, we need to start generating 300 word statements for all individual research outputs that are likely to be submitted.
On 19 July HEFCE held a webinar providing updates on REF 2021 policy developments related to the submission of staff and output portability. You can read two blogs (links provided below) which contain full details of the developments. Here are the main points:
UK funding bodies
- Accept Stern’s view that all academic staff who have any significant responsibility to undertake research should be returned to the REF and intend to take an inclusive approach
- But also recognise that there is no clear alternative to easily identify staff with a significant responsibility to undertake research
Based on the above, HEIs are given two options in relation to staff submission:
- 100% of staff submission – straightforward, no burden associated with staff selectivity
- Institutional identification of staff who are not required to carry out research and hence not submitting those staff members – high burden in terms of high selectivity and documentation. an auditable evidence will need to be provided where there is no expectation to undertake research (e.g. career pathway or workload model)
Portability or non-portability of research
Funding bodies are putting forward the following models:
- Both, ‘old’ and ‘new’ institutions would have credit for an output, i.e. the institution where the research output was demonstrably generated and at which the member of staff was employed would be able to retain full credit. However, the credit would also go to the new institution.
- Hybrid model, limited non-portability from a set point in time. This is complicated(!): a date will be set from which new rules will apply. This means there will be 2 rules in operation depending on whether the academic moved before or after the set date.
– If they move before the set date, they can take their outputs with them and only the new institution can claim these outputs (full portability, as in REF 2014).
– If they move after the set date they will be able to take a limited number of outputs (probably max of 2, tbc).
– Any other outputs could be submitted by the institution where an academic was employed when the output was first publicly made available.
- The proposals concerning both staff selectivity and the portability of outputs remain loose and require clarity and precision
- HEFCE will initiate a period of discussion with institutions about the precise wording of the broad proposals provided above
- Initial decisions on these issues will come out in autumn
Please visit the following blogs for the full details:
It does not matter how good your research article is, if it is not Open Access, it is not eligible for REF!
Open Access is the free, unrestricted online access to research, and is now a national requirement for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF).
The key points:
Journal articles must be uploaded to UCA Research Online within 3 months of their acceptance date (not the publication date) in order to be eligible for REF. This version must be your accepted manuscript (not the publisher’s PDF).
All other research outputs should be uploaded to UCA Research Online (such as book chapters you have authored, exhibitions of your work) as UCA may get extra credit at REF for providing Open Access to all types of research outputs.
Making your work Open Access will also benefit you as a researcher – it helps to raise your research profile, with studies showing increased citation rates.
As soon as you are notified that an article has been accepted for publication, upload it to UCA Research Online.
How can I add my research outputs?
Login with your UCA username/password at research.uca.ac.uk
There is a how-to video at research.uca.ac.uk/help/deposit.html
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff in Library & Student Services can help you on uploading your research, adhering to the policy and any rules from publishers.
To view the REF Open Access policy in full, see: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2016/201635/