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What a difference a year makes

17 December 2015

As institutions start to draft their responses to the Green Paper, and “a review of REF” kicks off, led by Lord Nicholas Stern, it seems vaguely sensible to point people towards things which have already been reviewed and cogitated on numerous times over – even just – the last 12 months.

For example, this morning I stumbled across the HEFCE Review of QR from December 2014 (“Quality related research funding is irreplaceable“), which makes for interesting reading when responding to the Green paper question: “…would you [seek to] ensure that dual funding streams… could not be changed?”…

There is also a comment in the Green paper to “…’refresh’ the REF results…in between full peer review.” and specifically suggests a “…greater use of metrics…”. Doesn’t anyone remember The Metric Tide which came out in July 2015? A very thorough piece of work which concluded: “Within REF, it is not currently feasible to assess the quality of UOAs using quantitative indicators alone”. So what could have possibly changed in the last six months?!

And in terms of other resources already published that have looked at burden and the workings of REF, don’t forget the outstanding work of REF Managers in this process, who saw REF assessment up-close and personal and produced a lovely report suggesting use of more consistent measures. Though they did also suggest exploring the de-coupling of outputs to individuals, the thought of which just makes my head hurt.

If you feel inclined to make your views known about the future of REF and the UK research landscape, the consultation (which largely focusses on the arrangements for TEF. Research is almost a token gesture, in acknowledgement that HEFCE’s role in research would have to live somewhere else, if HEFCE ceases to exist and a replacement organisation focusses on students alone) closes 15th January 2016.


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