Chartered ABS responds to consultation on initial decisions for REF 2028

The Chartered ABS has responded to the consultation on the initial decisions from UKRI on arrangements for the 2028 Research Excellence Framework. The proposals for the high-level design of the next REF assessment exercise were developed in partnership by the four UK HE funding bodies based on the key drivers for change that emerged from the Future Research Assessment Programme (FRAP) launched in 2021.

Our members welcome the continuity in certain arrangements for REF 2028 and see value in the shift in emphasis from the performance of individuals towards the collective contribution of research environments that are productive and inclusive. However, our members are concerned by the proposal that there will not be any maximum on the number of outputs per research active staff in submissions for REF 2028. This is contrary to the intended change in focus from the individual to the institution as without any limit on outputs per staff member REF submissions could become increasingly concentrated on the outputs of established researchers which would not result in inclusive research environments.

Our members are unsure as to how the use of the HESA Staff Record to determine the ‘research active’ status of staff will work in practice and would like to see more detailed explanations. It is crucial that UKRI continues to explore the potential unintended consequences of this method of designating the research status of staff in case it unfairly disadvantages certain types of individuals. In relation to interdisciplinary research and the REF, UK business schools are very active in collaborating with researchers in other fields but our members have noted that inter-disciplinary outputs received on average a lower GPA in REF 2021. UKRI should consider if the arrangements for REF 2028 appropriately incentivise the submission of inter-disciplinary outputs.

Our response to the consultation can be read in full here