The UK has begun a consultation on a new system for assessing the quality of university research to ensure public funding is allocated to the best scientists.
The UK has begun a consultation on a new system for assessing the quality of university research to ensure public funding is allocated to the best scientists. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) will replace the Research Assessment Exercise.
Under the REF, measures will be introduced to assess the economic and social impact of research ? which means that universities will be judged in part by the quality of their technology transfer and commercialisation activities.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) opened the consultation on REF, which it says aims to ensure the research sector ?makes a major contribution to economic prosperity, national wellbeing and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge in return for the £1.76 billion? allocated each year by public funding bodies.
The REF will focus on three elements, which together reflect the key characteristics of research excellence. These are:
The primary focus of the REF will be to identify excellent research of all kinds. This will be assessed through a process of expert review, informed by citation information in subjects where robust data are available (for example, in medicine and science).
Significant additional recognition will be given where researchers build on excellent research to deliver demonstrable benefits to the economy, society, public policy, culture and quality of life. Impacts will be assessed through a case-study approach that will be tested in a pilot exercise.
The REF will take account of the quality of the research environment in supporting a continuing flow of excellent research and its effective dissemination and application.
The consultation closes on Wednesday 16 December 2009. Following the consultation it is proposed that universities will submit the first portfolios of research under the scheme in 2012, for assessment in 2013. The results will be published in December 2013 and used to determine funding from 2014.
David Sweeney, HEFCE Director for Research, Innovation and Skills, says: 'The REF will recognise and reward excellent research and the sharing of new knowledge for the benefit of the economy and society. It will also ensure the effective allocation of public funds. It will encourage the productive interchange of research staff and ideas between higher education and business, Government and other sectors.
'The REF builds on the success of the RAE which is recognised worldwide as an effective and authoritative system. It incorporates important new features particularly in recognising the impact of research.'
Added the 20 August 2009 in category Innovation News