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Evaluation of impact and environment

Evaluation of impact

The 'impact of research' is one of the three main elements for assessing research in the REF. In partnership with the other higher education funding bodies, we commissioned RAND Europe to evaluate this element of the exercise.

The evaluation findings highlight a number of positive features of the impact assessment, including a range of benefits for HEIs, and draw out some of the challenges of the process, including an additional burden in preparing the submissions. The reports arising from the evaluation of impact form part of the evidence base that will inform policy development for future exercises.

The evaluation was conducted in two phases. The first phase focused on the process of preparing submissions for the impact component of the framework, and worked with a sample group of institutions in England, Wales and Scotland. 

The second phase focused on the process of assessing impact by the REF panels, and worked with the REF panel members and assessors.

Read the outcomes of the two-stage evaluation in full.

Evaluation of equality and diversity (E&D) in environment

We commissioned The Career Development Organisation (CRAC) to seek evidence of E&D activity at unit of assessment (UOA) level in REF 2014 environment submissions.

CRAC carried out text mining and contextual analysis on the people section of REF 2014 environment submissions to explore participation in known E&D initiatives. CRAC produced a report on their findings.

The report aimed to:

  • understand how far E&D varied at main panel and UOA level
  • reveal any trends between reporting of specific E&D activities and REF2014 outcomes.

Report findings

The report notes a positive relationship between REF research environment scores and reference to key E&D terms within submissions. It makes recommendations on how the next REF can better facilitate the inclusion of E&D in the environment.

Read the report in full