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The Research Excellence Framework A beginner’s guide.

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1 The Research Excellence Framework A beginner’s guide

2 What is the REF? Successor to the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), held in 2008, 2001, … Determines distribution of ‘QR’ funding to HE institutions (a lot of money!). Each ‘unit of assessment’ (likely to be Philosophy/HPS/TRS combined) in each HEI makes a submission. Assessment on the basis of outputs, research environment and impact (probably). Outputs can be a major factor in hiring decisions. Deadline between summer 2012 and summer 2014.

3 How are the results determined? Each element (individual outputs; environment; impact) awarded a grade (U, 1*, 2*, 3*, 4*). Funding determined by: – how many staff are submitted – what proportion at each grade. (In , the funding ratio for 4*:3*:2* is 9:3:1.) Institutions also want to maximise ‘grade point average’ (because of league tables). Every permanent or temporary staff member in post on the census date will normally be expected to contribute outputs (though mostly not including postdocs).

4 Outputs Up to 4 per person (depending on when you ‘entered the profession’). You MUST submit your full quota ( ‘U’ – unclassified – grade for missing outputs). Each submitted output is graded by the REF panel (U, 1*, 2*, 3*, 4*). So you need to: – have the required number of published outputs; – make sure they’re at least 2*.

5 What do the * ratings mean? *RAE 2008 Definition 4*Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour. 3*Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which nonetheless falls short of the highest standards of excellence. 2*Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour. 1*Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour. UQuality that falls below the standard of nationally recognised work. Or work which does not meet the published definition of research for the purposes of assessment.

6 Environment Not a major consideration for panels hiring junior staff. Things like: PhD completions Research income Editing journals Activity in the dept (conferences etc.) Major awards and invitations.

7 Impact Again, not a major consideration: currently unclear how it will be assessed or what kinds of thing will count. Might include things like: Involvement with practitioners and policymakers (medics, lawyers, government agencies, etc.) Popularising (public lectures, podcasts, etc.) Junior staff not really expected to contribute here, but if you can, do!

8 Strategies? Focus on outputs! High-quality, meaty publications in high-quality journals. Quality over quantity. You need to meet your quota, but beyond that, focus on writing better things rather than more things. Think about timing. Unconditional acceptance at a journal will normally suffice, but some journals take a long time (over a year) to make a decision. Be wary of PhD-based monographs. (May count double but less likely to score well. Also time-consuming so may prevent you meeting your quota.)


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