Higher education research excellence framework

The research excellence framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). It replaced the research assessment exercise (RAE) 2008 and was completed in December 2014.

Research excellence framework

Research assessment in the UK is achieved by means of the research excellence framework (REF) exercise. It is managed by the REF team based at Research England and overseen by a Steering Group comprised of representatives of the four higher education funding bodies, including the Department for the Economy. Further information is available on the REF website.

The purposes of the REF are to:

  • provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment
  • provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the HE sector and for public information
  • inform the selective allocation of funding for research

Research Excellence Framework 2021 - Consultation

Arrangements are currently being made for a second REF exercise, REF 2021. These arrangements take into account Lord Stern’s independent Research Excellence Framework review published on 28 July 2016.

The four UK higher education funding bodies are currently consulting on a range of aspects of the REF 2021 exercise. Specifically, they are seeking views from subject communities on the draft Panel criteria publication developed by the REF expert panels. They are also calling for responses on key aspects of the Guidance on submissions publication, which they have developed with advice from the expert panels, including the equality and diversity, and interdisciplinary research advisory panels.

All those with an interest in the conduct, quality, funding or use of research are invited to provide their feedback on the proposals available from the REF website at the links below:

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(Note: this page includes the RAND impact indicators report, environment indicators advice, the fellowships list, and the information requirements for outputs.)

How to respond

Consultation responses should be submitted via the REF website by 12 noon on 15 October 2018.

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