RSS responds to consultation on the Research Excellence Framework  

The RSS has raised concerns that the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in its current form may undersell the impact of UK research.

The REF, which rates the quality of research in higher education institutions, is conducted on behalf of the four UK research funding bodies - Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE). It allocates around £2 billion in research funding per year and published its second set of results for 2021 earlier this month, after the initial REF was published in 2014.

In a response to the latest consultation on the REF's future, the RSS points out that the way evidence for case studies is currently gathered makes it hard for institutions to focus on research where impact is less immediate. By omitting this research, the REF is underselling the overall strength of the UK’s research output. 

In particular, the submission notes the impact of the current assessment on inter- and transdisciplinary research. Many in the research community aren't convinced that the REF adequately recognises excellent interdisciplinary research, with regards to originality and significance. The RSS calls for more to be done in this area when developing the next assessment system, to build greater trust in the framework.  

Read our submission in full 

You may also be interested in the Society's 2017 response to consultation on the second REF and our 2015 working group report on REF league tables

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