Short delay for REF results to avoid local elections

Dr Kim Hackett confirmed the delay to the Research Excellence Framework in a letter sent to vice-chancellors, which set out the timetable for the results

The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 are subject to a short delay, the fund’s director has said, with results now expected a month later than planned, in mid-May.

Dr Kim Hackett, the REF director, wrote to vice-chancellors on 23 September to apprise them of the new timetable. The delay ensures the REF results do not clash with the “pre-election period during April and at the start of May 2022”, when local elections are expected to take place.

The new public data for publishing the REF is 12 May, Hackett confirmed. Results are to be released under embargo to vice-chancellors three days earlier.

The REF – which is now in its second iteration – is responsible for allocating around £2 billion of public funding per year for research undertaken in universities. The REF team are still surveying the sector on how best to present the published REF result – but it hopes to send examples of the format to institutions in March.

In summer 2022, REF will publish separate reports from the four main panels – medicine, health and life sciences; physical sciences, engineering and mathematics; social sciences; and arts and humanities – which include sections from the sub-panels. The four chairs – Prof John Iredale, Prof David Price, Prof Jane Millar and Prof Dinah Birch – will confirm the panel’s working methods and provide “observations about the state of research (strengths, weaknesses, vitality of activity and scope of impacts achieved)”.

Hackett will also publish the director’s report, and the REF Equality and Diversity Panel (EDAP) will report its work and EDI observations.

A review already published by the REF team found that the membership of the 2021 panels shows “significant progress” towards increasing diversity – but numbers of ethnic minorities in the assessment process still fell short. The report analyses the numbers nominated for REF panel membership and the proportions of those appointed.

New Zealand’s former chief scientist is to head an international panel of experts to review the UK’s 2021 research excellence framework (REF) and explore future models of assessment.

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