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.
Latest news on REF 2021
- outputs – 60 per cent
- impact – 25 per cent
- environment – 15 per cent
Read full details on the initial decisions here:
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:
As discussed in our previous blog the report on UoA 34 mentions that Art & Design (UoA 34) proved itself as a leader in interdisciplinary research. In REF 2014 interdisciplinarity emerged as a distinct and a growing phenomenon, particularly within areas of product and digital design, film, curatorship, media studies, conceptual and performance based art practice.
An interesting point for reflection is that although Art & Design (UoA 34) did feature a significant volume of interdisciplinary research it was not identified as such by the submitting HEIs.
Professor Judith Petts, Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive, University of Plymouth distinguishes several important factors that can impede or encourage interdisciplinary research. Please refer to HEFCE blog for the full article.
The policy landscape
- Interdisciplinary outputs in REF 2014 were rated equally well to mono- disciplinary ones
- Despite the fact that the academic community values interdisciplinary research, many would not advise an early-career researcher to participate before they had established their own disciplinary credentials.
Working ‘away from home’
- Working away from your discipline can be somewhat uncomfortable
- a large team working across different sites, organisations or sectors; or
- funders and publishers guiding and sourcing reviewers with the skills and diversity of understanding to ensure robust and effective peer review of interdisciplinary proposals and work
- Culture and structure of the academic organisations
There is a real opportunity to promote the research landscape that delivers and facilitates interdisciplinary research that addresses complex socio-economic and more global challenges.
Read more below about interdisciplinarity in Stern review and in HEFCE consultation Continue reading “Interdisciplinary Research”
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On 8 December last year, the UK higher education funding bodies launched the consultation setting out proposals for implementing the Stern recommendation on the next REF. Since then, there has been a lot of discussion about the proposals, including at the consultation events. Through these, and at other engagements, quite a lot of people have…
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