The Research Excellence Framework (REF)
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the research taking place across UK universities. REF takes place cyclically, typically every six years.
The framework is used by the four UK higher education funding bodies (Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland) to assess the quality of research and to inform the distribution of research funding - worth currently around £2 billion per year, to UK universities.
The main purpose of REF is to:
- Act as an assessment for UK research funding allocations
- Provide accountability for public funding of research and demonstrate the benefits
- Provide significant benchmarking information on research reputation for universities
How is the REF assessment carried out?
- Quality of research outputs (accounting for 60% of the assessment)
- Impact of research – its effect on, change, or benefit to the economy, society, policy, culture and quality of life (accounting for 25% of the assessment)
- Research environment – an institution’s research strategy, research facilities, opportunities for collaboration and environment, including research income and research degrees awarded (accounting for 15% of the assessment)
- Main Panel A: Medicine, health and life sciences
- Main Panel B: Physical sciences, engineering and mathematics
- Main panel C: Social sciences
- Main Panel D: Arts and humanities