Hefce reduces points of impact in REF

The weighting given to impact in the first research excellence framework will be less than originally envisaged, the Higher Education Funding Council for England has confirmed.

March 1, 2011

Impact will count for 20 per cent of scores in the inaugural REF in 2014, rather than the 25 per cent figure initially proposed by Hefce.

Research outputs will account for 65 per cent and research environment for 15 per cent.

The reduction is a response to feedback from the assessment panels involved in last year’s pilot exercises, which expressed concerns that too high a weighting for impact might undermine confidence in the REF given the “developmental” nature of the assessment criteria.

Impact was not part of the previous research assessment exercise. Both the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities and Million +, which represents newer institutions, had previously called for impact to count for just 15 per cent of REF scores.

The REF will replace the RAE as the mechanism for allocating about £1.5 billion in annual quality-related research funding.

Hefce has also today confirmed that each department will have to submit one impact case study for the REF plus another for every 10 academics it employs.

Departments will also have to submit an “impact statement” that includes “information about how the unit has supported and enabled impact during the assessment period”.

The exercise will assess impact in the period January 2008-July 2013, based on research conducted in the previous 15 years – although the time frame may be extended to 20 years for certain units of assessment “if the subpanel makes an exceptional case for doing so”.

The physics panel in the pilot exercise had called for the time limit to be extended to 25 years. Hefce has also confirmed that extra research “users” will be recruited to assess impacts, while those users already appointed to the 36 subpanels, announced last week, will be “fully involved” in developing assessment criteria and submissions guidelines.


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