Skip to content
The UK's only independent think tank devoted to higher education.

REF2028: Outputs Matter

  • 2 November 2023
  • By Nigel Thrift
  • HEPI number Policy Note 50

In a new HEPI Policy Note, REF2028: Outputs Matter, Professor Sir Nigel Thrift, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, argues the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is becoming overloaded – thereby diluting its core purpose.

A response to this paper, which outlines a different perspective from Professor Stephen Curry, is also available on the HEPI website here.

1 comment

  1. Albert Wright says:

    Outputs Matter but there seems to be confusion around what you define as an Output and how you will measure it.

    Who is involved in the measuring and how these people are chosen will also have an impact.

    Individuals, panels, teams, groups, institutions are all involved. How deep and how wide can the context be stretched?

    The time period chosen to collect the data to evaluate the size and weight of the Outputs is also of interest.

    We do not get much help with our task when the key document is a long list of worthy words without any “weighting” given to the individual A to Z points to indicate where the priorities are or perhaps they are all of equal value?

    “The aims and objectives of its Framework Document (BEIS, 2018), to wit:
    Aims: (a) Push the frontiers of human knowledge and understanding (b) Deliver economic impact (c)Create social and cultural impact by supporting society to become enriched, healthier, more resilient and sustainable.

    Objectives: (a) be the unified voice for continued strengthening of the UK research and innovation system, nationally and internationally (b) lead on the development and delivery of a coherent national research and innovation strategy which maximises the advancement of knowledge, economic and societal impact, based on more and better evidence and data (c) ensure better prioritisation of resources, especially for the best interdisciplinary and cross-cutting research, as well as longer term investment in research infrastructure (d) maximise the impact of Innovate UK in supporting business-led innovation (e) promote stronger commercialisation, business and policy links, and wider societal engagement with publicly funded research (f) nurture and improve the talent pipeline for research and innovation (g) champion equality, diversity and inclusion across the research and innovation sector,
    and support a healthy and high-integrity culture (h) deliver a simpler, well-functioning research and innovation ecosystem which is easier to use and helps build collaborative partnerships between end users, including universities, researchers, charities, communities, businesses, NGOs [Non-Governmental Organisations] and international organisations (i) be a great place to work, which inspires, engages and learns from its people, and (j) deliver a step-change in administrative efficiency, including through combining corporate functions. ”

    Is this an academic joke???

    Given the size of the budgets involved are £ billions, the lack of clarity and precision in how the funds are allocated and then later evaluated is unbelievable!

    I went to the cinema recently and saw Oppenhimer. I wondered if the funding model they used to create and deliver the Atomic bomb has anything in it to help us with finding a better way to choose what to research and how to evaluate the Output?

    To leave research funding allocation to academics seems very dangerous to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *