Impact assessment

June 25, 2009

I was at the research excellence framework conference last week ("Hefce backs off citations in favour of peer review in REF", 18 June).

Your focus on what we pretty much knew already - that peer review will not be replaced by bibliometrics - hides the much more useful conference discussions of the REF: assessment of impact is poorly thought out.

As became clear, other than some broad-brush notions, the Higher Education Funding Council for England seems to have little idea about how it will define impact, still less how it will measure it, what exactly will be assessed and over what period, whether its suggestion of a department-based approach is actually workable, and how it will translate impact into the ratings system.

Given that the first REF is barely three years away from being over and done with, and given the significance of impact to a REF quality profile, this is of real concern.

Tim Brooks, University of East London.

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