These decisions represent a shift towards a broader and more holistic approach to research assessment.
These decisions have been reached by agreement across the four UK HE funding bodies represented in the Future Research Assessment Programme Board. Decisions have been arrived at through consultation and engagement with the sector, have been informed by commissioned research in specific areas, and have incorporated advice sought from the International Advisory Group.
- The next exercise will be conducted in 2028 with institutions providing their submissions in late 2027
- REF 2028 will have an expanded definition of research excellence. The three elements familiar from REF 2014 and REF 2021 have been renamed, their content adjusted and their weightings rebalanced to reflect this:
- People, culture and environment (25% weighting) replaces the environment element and will be expanded to include research culture
- Contribution to knowledge and understanding (50% weighting) replaces the outputs element. It will largely be based on assessment of research outputs, but will also include evidence of broader contributions to the advancement of the discipline
- Engagement and impact (25% weighting) replaces the impact element. It is similar to the impact element of REF 2014 and will consist of impact case studies and an accompanying statement
- REF 2028 will move further away from the assessment of individuals. There will be a new approach to determining research volume, where the number of staff with significant responsibility for research is drawn directly from the HESA staff record. The volume measure will be based on the average number of staff over a number of years
- In REF 2028 there will be no minimum of maximum number of outputs contributed by an individual. This is intended to increase inclusivity of the assessment and provide an environment which is supportive of researchers establishing themselves, or moving into academia
See the full initial decisions document, annexes and supporting documents:
- Research Excellence Framework 2028: initial decisions and issues for further consultation (REF 2023/01) (pdf)
- Summary of stakeholder engagements leading to initial decisions on the Research Excellence Framework 2028 (pdf)
- Equality impact assessment for the Future Research Assessment Programme (pdf)
- Future Research Assessment Programme international advisory group report (pdf)
- REF 2021- Analysis of inclusion for submission, representation in outputs attribution and scoring
- REF 2021 Cost evaluation report (pdf)
Following the publication of these initial decisions, further work is required to develop the more detailed guidance and criteria.
This will take place through the following routes:
- A short, targeted consultation on specific policy aspects
- A discrete consultation on the REF 2028 open access policy to be launched later in 2023
- Commissioned work on content and indicators for the structured explanatory statements and the revised people, culture and environment element
- Discussions with REF assessment and advisory panels when appointed
Consultation with the HE sector and other relevant stakeholders will continue to be central to all policy development activities.
REF 2028: initial decisions and issues for further consultation webinars
The funding bodies held two webinars in July and September focusing on the key areas for further consultation.