Evaluating the Impact Component of REF 2014

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At the request of the UK’s higher education funding bodies, RAND Europe has carried out research into the ‘impact’ element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, an initiative used to determine the levels of funding assigned to higher education institutions (HEIs). For the first time, REF 2014 has taken into consideration the wider societal impact and value of research, not just the quality and quantity of research.

RAND Europe has conducted two evaluations of the impact component of REF 2014 that will inform future, similar exercises.

The first study evaluated universities’ preparation of submissions describing impacts, in the form of case studies and impact strategies. We identified good practices, benefits and burdens, and unintended consequences for HEIs.

The second study examined the process of assessment of submissions by panels of academics and research users. We explored the strengths and weaknesses of the assessment process and whether or not it delivered reliable and fair outcomes, and noted areas for improvement.