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REF 2014: Early Development

Early development of the REF: 2009 to 2010

The process began in 2009 when the funding councils ran a consultation on the replacement for the RAE – the Research Assessment Exercise. The consultation on the Research Excellence Framework (REF) ran until the 16th December 2009. The NCCPE submitted the following response on behalf of the Beacons for Public Engagement.

The REF proposals that were then published presented important opportunities to encourage public engagement in universities and research institutes, in particular through their focus on the measurement of the ‘impact’ of research. The proposals generated debate in the sector, particularly around the proposed approach to the assessment of impact.

We recognized that the proposals could significantly enhance the status and resourcing of public engagement in higher education. But we also recognized risks, in particular that the focus on demonstrating impact could generate cynicism and mis-trust of engagement, and encourage ‘box ticking’ or superficial approaches to engagement which in the long-term undermine quality.

REF consultation: 2009

During 2009, we worked in partnership with the Beacons for Public Engagement and university staff across the UK to inform our response to the initial REF proposals, and to support others in developing their responses. We also ran a workshop specifically looking at how the proposals related to public engagement. The outputs from this work are available below.

  • We prepared a short briefing paper which summarized the key proposals relating to impact assessment.
  • We offered a response to the consultation.
  • Outputs from our 2009 REF workshop - summarises the discussions at our workshop (10 November 2009) to explore the REF

The REF team published the outcomes of the consultation in March 2010, including initial decisions on the design of the REF framework.

Impact pilot exercise: 2010

During 2010 the REF team ran a pilot exercise to test and develop the proposed approach to assessing impact in the REF. The pilot exercise involved 29 UK higher education institutions submitting evidence of impact to be assessed by pilot expert panels in five REF units of assessment. In March 2011 the funding bodies announced their decisions on the weighting and assessment of impact within the REF.