New Zealand scientist leads research excellence framework review

Former government science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman will lead international advisory body to examine reform of national research audit

May 19, 2021
International Science Council president-elect Peter Gluckman

A review of the UK’s research excellence framework (REF) is to be led by a leading scientist from New Zealand.

Sir Peter Gluckman, a paediatrician and biomedical scientist who was chief science adviser to New Zealand’s prime minister from 2009 to 2018, will chair an international advisory group to examine the future of research assessment in the UK, including the REF, a sector-wide research audit held every six years that decides how about £1.6 billion of quality-related funding is distributed annually.

According to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), one of the four UK higher education bodies that is launching the future research assessment programme, the initiative will involve “dialogue with the higher education sector…to understand what a healthy, thriving research system looks like and how an assessment model can best form its foundation”.

It will “investigate possible different approaches to the evaluation of UK higher education research performance, looking to identify those that can encourage and strengthen the emphasis on delivering excellent research and impact, and support a positive research culture, while simplifying and reducing the administrative burden on the HE sector,” UKRI said in a statement released on 19 May.

It will involve a series of engagement events and a formal written consultation with the programme of work is expected to conclude by late 2022.

Sir Peter, who is president-elect of the International Science Council and is currently head of the Centre for Science in Policy, Diplomacy and Society, a research centre and thinktank hosted within the University of Auckland’s Public Policy Institute, said he was keen to work with international colleagues to “advise the funding bodies as they explore possible assessment models for the future”.

“This is an exciting opportunity to consider how national research assessment can form the foundation for a healthy, inclusive and dynamic research system,” said Sir Peter.

“It is important that we think about what we value as carefully as how we evaluate it and listen closely to priorities and concerns from across the UK’s research community.”

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