The THE have just reported that the percentage of points given to research impact in the REF will be reduced from 25% to 20%.
Tag Archives: HEFCE
The REF team on behalf of the four UK funding bodies today announced the membership of the expert panels for the REF 2014.
Membership of the panels comprises a balance of academic subject experts and those with expertise in the use or contribution of research more widely, as well as members with an international perspective on the main panels.
Further members are still to be appointed by the four funding bodies to a small number of panels. An updated membership list will be published when the process is complete.
The full list of main panel and sub-panel chairs was announced earlier this year.
The REF team will now work with the chairs and members of the panels during 2011 to develop the criteria for the assessment in 2014.
The report analyses the data from the pilot exercise to develop bibliometric indicators for the REF. It analyses the effect of using bibliometrics (citation scores) in the REF upon certain types of research staff. For example, early career researchers will be less likely to have many citations. It also looks at age and sex, gender, ethnicity, disability of researchers as well as those who are part-time staff.
The report recommends:
If citation data are used then the four UK higher education funding bodies will need to ensure that institutions planning to make submissions to the REF are aware of the results of this analysis so that they can take them into account when selecting staff for inclusion. Further, panels will also need to account for the differences found and will require guidance as part of their equality briefing.
The full reports from the Impact Pilot Study are available online from HEFCE. As well as the report, there are example case studies from Clinical Medicine, Earth Systems & Environmental Sciences, Physics, Social Work & Social Policy and English Language & Literature.
News that HEFCE have just published Capturing Research Impacts: A review of international practice is of particular interest for Swansea University since we will be participating in the HEFCE Pilot Exercise on Research Impact.
This is the report Hefce commissioned from RAND Europe to bring together knowledge gained from international experiences in assessing research impact. The review will help inform development of this new aspect of the REF. Notably, the review “suggests that the work of the Australian RQF Working Group on Impact Assessment might provide a basis for developing an approach to impact in the REF”. (See previous entries on this blog regarding the RQF.)
RAND Europe has already established experience in this area. See for example, Exploring the impact of arthritis research
Full report and executive summary are available at: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/rdreports/2009/rd23_09/
There has been much debate about this element of the REF proposals. Nobel laureates have raised objections. The Russell Group have stated that they are “broadly supportive of introducing a measure of the economic and social impact of research, provided that this is underpinned by a robust methodology which commands the confidence of the academic community”. A petition against the use of research impact in the allocation of funding has been created on the No. 10 website. An earlier petition, set up in June 2009, before the REF proposals were published, opposed the imposition of impact statements which funding councils now often require as part of a grant application; and knowledge transfer staff in universities have complained that they are being swamped with requests to write these “impact statements”.
Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and David Sweeney, Director of Research & Innovation at HEefce, have both indicated that research funding is limited and that there is a need to evaluate the impact of research. The policy context they cite is the Science & Innovation Investment Framework, 2004-14. There is a need, say Hefce, to “strengthen links between investment in research and the economic and social benefits it delivers”. The same message is to be found in the Research Councils Economic Impact Group’s 2006 paper, Increasing the Economic Impact of the Research Councils.
HEFCE has set out proposed methods for evaluating impact and is running a pilot exercise. The methodology to be employed in evaluating research impact, seems similar to that proposed for the now defunct Australian RQF exercise. The Australian top 8 research intensive universities opposed impact evaluation, which they felt would be overly bureaucratic and time-consuming. On the other hand, universities represented by the Australian Tehnology Network, were supportive of the proposals. The ATN produced an interesting brief report based upon their experience of the Australian research impact pilot exercise. It discusses methodology, and case study examples.
Here in the UK, UNICO, the Knowledge Transfer professionals’ organisation, have proposed the development of a metrics system to measure the impact of UK publicly funded research. These metrics, they suggest, could be used in attracting industry funding for research and to encourage international research collaborations with universities and with industry.
David Sweeney, Director of Research & Innovation at HEFCE, was quoted in The Australian newspaper yesterday as saying that research funds in the UK are being stretched too much to cover the volume of research in academia. “Our strategy is to improve the quality of research, not the quantity,” he is reported to have said.