Decisions announced on research impact assessment

HEFCE has published information on how research impact will be assessed in the Research Excellence Framework and the weighting that will be given to research output, impact, and environment.

The key decisions taken by the four UK funding bodies following an impact assessment pilot exercise are that:

  • In the REF there will be an explicit element to assess the 'impact' arising from excellent research, alongside the 'outputs' and 'environment' elements.
  • The assessment of impact will be based on expert review of case studies submitted by higher education institutions. Case studies may include any social, economic or cultural impact or benefit beyond academia that has taken place during the assessment period, and was underpinned by excellent research produced by the submitting institution within a given timeframe. Submissions will also include information about how the unit has supported and enabled impact during the assessment period.
  • A weighting of 25 per cent for impact would give due recognition to the economic and social benefits of excellent research. However, given that the impact assessment in the 2014 REF will still be developmental, the weighting of impact in the first exercise will be reduced to 20 per cent, with the intention of increasing this in subsequent exercises.
  • The assessment of research outputs will account for 65 per cent, and environment will account for 15 per cent, of the overall assessment outcomes in the 2014 REF. These weightings will apply to all units of assessment.

Download a copy of the REF publication.

Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, has commented that the Russell Group believes that a 20% weighting given to impact is too high when impact assessment is still new and untested and has called for it to be given a considerably lower weighting.

Read the Russell Group's reaction to the assessment decisions.

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