HEFCE publishes draft REF panel criteria and working methods

At the end of last week, HEFCE released draft panel criteria and working methods for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The publication of panel criteria follows the release of the framework and guidance on submissions for the REF, released earlier in July. With these documents now in place, we begin to get a fairly clear picture of how the REF will look and work.

In short, it looks strikingly similar to the RAE with the addition of impact (to make up 20% of the overall assessment, with 65% for research outputs and 15% for environment) and the proposed use of citation data to inform peer review in some Units of Assessment.

ResearchResearch has done a good job of summarising the main messages from the panel criteria and working methods documents. The key points are:

  • Different panels and UoAs will use citation data to differing degrees, and they will also differ in what kinds of outputs are acceptable
  • All sub-panels of Panel A (life sciences and allied health disciplines) will use citation data “where it is available, as an indicator of the academic impact of the outputs, to inform its assessment of output quality”
  • Just under half of the sub-panels in Panel B (physical sciences) will use citation data: Earth systems & Environment, Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science.
  • Two sub-panels in Panel C (social sciences) will make use of citation data: Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology (although not all of this UoA will use citations) and Economics and Econometrics.
  • None of Panel D (arts and humanities) will use citation data.
  • Physical sciences will be able to submit a larger range of outputs, including patents, computer algorithms and software. In contrast life scientists will be more restricted, and can only include some kinds of outputs, such as databases or textbooks “exceptionally”.

The consultation on the panel criteria and working methods is open until October 5th, and the final version is expected in early 2012.