Research Excellence Framework panel members announced

The REF team on behalf of the four UK funding bodies have announced the membership of the expert panels for the REF 2014.

To read this item in full visit the HEFCE website.

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REF – UoAs and recruitment of expert panels

The funding bodies have today published Units of assessment and recruitment of expert panels setting out decisions in relation to the following aspects of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF):

• the configuration of units of assessment and grouping of sub-panels under main panels • the roles and responsibilities of main panels, sub-panels and their members in the assessment • the criteria and process for recruiting panel chairs and members.

The document also:

• invites individuals to apply to become sub-panel chairs (deadline for applications is 17 September 2010). • invites organisations and associations with an interest in research – except for higher education institutions – to nominate candidates to become panel members (deadline for nominations is 8 October 2010).

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REF delayed until 2014

HEFCE recently confirmed speculation that the REF has been delayed and is now set to take place in 2014 with submissions in late 2013.

The proposed timetable and details of the appointment of the Main Panel Chairs Designate is now available on the HEFCE website

Further information about the panel structure and recruitment of panels is due to be published by the end of July.

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Applications are invited for the roles of Chairs Designate for the four REF Main Panels

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). It replaces the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The results of the REF will be used by the funding bodies to inform their allocations of research funding to HEIs.

The REF will be a process of expert review, informed by indicators. Institutions will submit evidence of the quality of their research outputs, the wider impact of their research and the vitality of the research environment, to be assessed by 30-40 sub-panels. The sub-panels will work under the guidance of four Main Panels.

The funding bodies wish to appoint Chairs Designate to the four REF Main Panels. Initially, their role will be to advise on the further planning and design of the assessment framework, before taking up their roles as Main Panel Chairs once the panels are in place later in the year.

The four Main Panels will broadly cover the following areas of research: Medicine, health and life sciences (Main Panel A), Physical sciences, engineering and mathematics (Main Panel B), Social sciences (Main Panel C), and Arts and humanities (Main Panel D).

Main Panels will meet several times during 2010-11 to develop panel criteria and working methods (including for the assessment of research impact) and throughout the assessment phase of the REF. In addition, Chairs will be expected to attend a number of sub-panel meetings and meetings of the Main Panel chairs. In total it is anticipated that Main Panel Chairs will be involved in approximately 30-40 days of meetings throughout the exercise.

Chairs will receive an attendance fee for meetings, an additional fee in recognition of preparatory work undertaken, and an honorarium on completion of the exercise.

Further details, including job description, person specification and how to apply, can be found here

The closing date for applications is midday on 22nd April 2010.

Further details on the outcomes of consultations on proposals for the REF and initial decisions on its design are available from the HEFCEwebsite.

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Research Excellence Framework (REF): Consultation Outcomes

Yesterday, HEFCW published a circular which details outcomes of the consultation on the REF and the next steps in its implementation. There was overwhelming support for the quality of research outputs to continue to be the primary factor in the assessment, and the vitality of the research environment also to be significant. There was widespread support, in principle, for including an impact element within the REFbut the need to develop a robust method for assessing impact was highlighted. Many respondents suggested the weighting for impact should be lower than the proposed 25%. Another issue raised was the need to ensure that panels do not undervalue the impact of research to inform WAG policy.

The funding bodies have made taken some initial decisions on many key aspects of the design of the REF all of which can be found in the consultation document. There are a number of particular points to note. Firstly, there are tighter definitions around eligibility of staff. Secondly, assessment will be undertaken by an expert sub-panel to be established for each of 30-40 Units of Assessment working under the guidance of four broad main panels. Output quality will be the dominant element assessed, with a significant weighting for each of impact and environment. The method for assessing impact and the weightings between outputs, environment and impact will be determined after the current impact pilot exercise (Autumn 2010). The increased publication of outputs in open access format and the increased use of institutional repositories is welcomed. The funding bodies aim to make available citation information to some panels to inform their review of outputs and to institutions to inform their selection of outputs, however this decision may be revisited if the costs are too high or if there are equalities implications. The current preference for collection of research student and income data is to use HESAdata. This would mean that research students and income would no longer be associated only with staff selected for the REF but would reflect overall figures for the submitted unit as a whole. And finally, the funding bodies plan to take forward proposals for consideration of critical mass within the research environment element and will consult with panels.

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A Brief Guide to the REF Consultation Proposals

HEFCE have produced a brief guide to the consultation proposals to accompany the full REF second consultation on the assessment and funding of research. Brief Guide

The brief guide as well as the full REF consultation can also be accessed online via the main REF page

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REF Consultation

ast week HEFCE published a second consultation on the proposals for the Research Excellence Framework which can be viewed at:HEFCE

University response

The consultation invites HEIs to submit a response. Each Head of Research and Head or Director in key Corporate Departments who will be affected by the proposals in the consultation have been asked to a co-ordinate a response which will contribute to the overall University response and you should hear from them shortly with detailed arrangements. The internal deadline for these responses to be submitted to the Research Office is 30th October 2009.

A summary of some of the main aspects of the proposals for the REF are contained in the attached document.

For further information on the consultation please contact Dr Sarah Oldfield in the Research Office or use the following link to access theREF web pages which includes supporting documents can be found on the REF web pages

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Leader: Watch the devilish details

The Times Higher Eduaction has published an article about the upcoming REF, it reports that it is moving in a direction that most of the sector is happy with, but there is still much at stake in the fine-tuning. To read the full article Leader: Watch the devilish details

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Citation database accuracy queried

The Web of Science has been forced to defend its procedures after academic Richard Hull discovered a ‘bizarre anomaly’. This has raised concerns into whether the Web of Science database will be sufficiently robust enough for use in the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework.

For the full story please see Times Higher Education

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Editors demand an opt-out from journal rankings

The Times Higher has reported that editors of 45 international academic journals have asked for their titles to be removed from a controversial new journal ranking system.

In a joint editorial entitled “Journals under threat: A joint response from history of science, technology and medicine editors”, the 45 editors denounce the European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH).

For full article please see The Times Higher Education

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