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Research Impact: Framework for Excellence

  • Thursday, 04 October 2018
  • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • 08:30 - 16:30
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  • Overview

The countdown to REF2021, the assessment process for university research funding, is well and truly underway. Research Impact: Framework for Excellence will explore the new assessment criteria and guidelines, offering practical insights to help deliver high quality research outputs and submissions across disciplines, institutions, projects and staff. 

The results of the impending REF exercise will be used to inform the allocation of government funding to universities for research, almost £2 billion of annual research investment. The UK funding bodies have taken on board the key recommendations of the 2016 Stern review and are developing their frameworks for 2021 to secure the continuation of a dynamic and responsive research base within UK higher education. Key considerations for universities include increased impact weighting, output portability, identifying staff for inclusion and open access. This summer the funding bodies will publishing draft guidance setting out the information that will be required in institutions’ submissions, and the generic definitions and criteria that will apply. 

This timely event will help support universities and research institutions in delivering world-class research and ensure they adhere to the developing assessment criteria. The agenda includes practical learning sessions and leading stakeholder presentations designed to help higher education institutions improve outputs, processes, codes of practice and interdisciplinary research for REF 2021 submissions.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) was introduced to assess the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and inform the allocation of government funding for research. The key purposes of the REF are:

  • to inform the selective allocation of funding for research.
  • to provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  • to provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use in the higher education sector and for public information.

Key recommendations of the 2016 Stern Review included a new institutional level assessment to reward collaboration on interdisciplinary activities; widening and deepening the notion of research “impact” to include influence on public engagement, culture and on teaching; and, the inclusion of all research active staff to support a more flexible research framework.

Join us at Research Impact: Framework for Excellence to gain a greater understanding of the REF2021 assessment and submissions processes. Learn how to effectively measure and evidence impact with interactive, practical sessions on improving REF implications and interdisciplinary research.

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  • Confirmed Speakers

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  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair’s Opening Address


Keynote Address

"REF 2021: Where we are and how we got here"

Following the publication of the draft Guidance on Submissions and Panel criteria in summer, this presentation will outline the key policy decisions contained in these documents. It will highlight the similarities and differences between REF 2021 and the previous assessment exercise and will explain how we arrived at these decisions.

"Interdisciplinary research: Assessments, culture and collaboration"

The Interdisciplinary Research Advisory Panel (IDAP) advises the REF team, REF panel chairs and the UK funding bodies on the approach to support the submission and assessment of interdisciplinary research (IDR) in the REF. The panel will advise on whether it should have a specific role in the submissions and assessment phase of the next REF in summer 2018. A new institutional level assessment to reward collaboration on interdisciplinary activities was recommended in the Stern Review, how will universities respond to this assessment criteria?

"Reflections on REF 2021"

Discussing how to develop the quality of research outputs and demonstrate originality, significance and rigour in REF applications.


Question and Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area


Case Study

"REF Outputs: How 'Evidence for Excellence' Has Changed Over 25 Years'"

For 30 years, outputs published by UK researchers have been submitted for cyclical assessment by peer panels, creating a unique longitudinal dataset. In this presentation I will describe analyses of all publications submitted for assessment between 1988 and 2014. The dataset covers 921,254 submitted outputs and 36,244 case study references across 25 years, five assessment cycles and both academic impact and economic/societal impact. The analysis identifies patterns not previously reported. The patterns are of particular interest because they show remarkable synchrony across disciplines and across universities, suggesting a powerful cultural consensus, but they evolve over time in science and engineering, suggesting changing concepts. The results are discussed in terms of the way researchers identified ‘evidence of excellence’ and how their interpretation changed as more information became available.


Panel Discussion

  • Professor Graeme Reid, University College London, Chair of Science and Research Policy (confirmed)
  • Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research) and Professor of Mineral Physics, University College London (confirmed)
  • Professor Dinah Birch CBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Cultural Engagement and Professor of English Literature, University of Liverpool (confirmed)
"Striving for Excellence: Research active staff, portability and delivering a flexible framework"

Panel members will discuss and debate the next REF assessment criteria offering practical guidance to help you improve your research excellence and to demonstrate excellence in submissions.


Case Study

"Systematic Impact Data and Evidence Collection for Robust Impact Reporting"

Discussing the need for universities to gather high quality impact data, and, the frameworks and systems required for this. The talk will also explore what is required to develop compelling Impact Case Studies for REF2021.


Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair’s Afternoon Remarks


Panel Discussion

"What use is the REF?"

Debating the evolution of REF to ensure it is not an internal academic exercise but a tool to highlight where the very best research is taking place and reward the best research that is being done.


Coffee in the networking area

"From Selection to Eligibility: The Changing Nature of Staff Inclusivity for REF2021 "

At the heart of all research excellence evaluations is the decision about who to submit. Successive iterations, up to and including REF2014, were based on selecting a limited number of outputs from specific individuals. This gave HEIs enormous freedom to shape returns to reflect their strategic objectives. But it was also criticised for selection bias, gender inequality and allegations of ‘game playing’. The Stern Review proposed that all active researchers, regardless of the quantity and quality of outputs should be returned. This was operationalised in the REF2021 Guidance as including all staff with a ‘significant responsibility for research’. But what does this mean and what steps will be required to make these decisions? This is particularly problematic for staff defined as ‘teaching and research’ in their contract or in the HEI’s HESA return. Some of these are genuinely research active, but can they be defined as having a significant responsibility? In his presentation Karl will outline the approach being adopted at Salford to identify those staff likely to be submitted and the process being implemented to inform the final decisions, which seeks to be fair, transparent, promotes equity, and continues to support the next generation of research leaders.


Closing Keynote Address

"Changing the Impact of Research"

The impact case studies submitted by UK Higher Education Institutions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 provide a unique resource of text describing impact beyond academia and across all disciplines. While accounting for just 4% of the UK’s total impact submissions, Wales outperformed other UK countries on the impact component of REF. Combining a comparative analysis of Wales’s submissions against the rest of the UK, and a qualitative analytical approach, the talk will highlight how research from a small country, with a small number of HEIs, produced significant benefits both regionally and internationally.


Question and Answer Session


Chair’s Closing Remarks and Event Close

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  • Winter is Coming: Countdown to REF 2021 Begins

    • Posted on 21 September 2017
  • Responsible metrics on the road to REF 2021

    • Posted on 11 September 2017
    • by James Wilsdon




The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Construction of The Bridgewater Hall commenced on 22 March 1993, but the idea of a new concert hall for Manchester dates back to the reconstruction of the Free Trade Hall in the 1950s after wartime bomb damage. The Free Trade Hall was home to the city’s famous Hallé orchestra and also hosted rock and pop concerts. However, despite holding great public affection, the 1850s Free Trade Hall was ill-equipped to respond to the rising standards of service and acoustic excellence demanded by performers and audiences.

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who will attend

  • Business Development Managers
  • Chief Scientists
  • Clinical Sciences Directors
  • Commercial Liaison Officers
  • Director of Research and Development
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Executive Directors and Chief Executive Officers
  • Heads/Deans of Science and Research Faculties
  • Heads of Research and Development
  • Heads of Research Networks
  • Heads of Funding
  • Heads of Policy
  • Heads of Technology Transfer
  • Heads of Knowledge Transfer
  • Information and Research Officers
  • Knowledge Transfer Managers
  • Managing Directors
  • Medical Directors
  • REF Managers and Case Study Writers
  • Research Directors and Associates
  • Project and Programme Managers
  • Scientific Advisors
  • Senior Scientists and Engineers
  • Senior Lecturers and Academics
  • Social Scientists
  • Technology Advisors and Analysts
  • Venture Capitalists