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  • Education & Training

Research Impact: Strengthening the Excellence Framework

  • Thursday, 14 September 2017
  • Manchester Conference Centre
  • 08:30 - 16:30
  • Overview

Research Impact: Strengthening the Excellence Framework will explore the next steps and rules for the Research Excellence Framework in 2021, offering practical guidance on delivering high quality submissions across disciplines, institutions and projects.

The results of the next REF exercise will again be used to inform the allocation of government funding to universities for research, almost £2 billion of annual research investment. The previous exercise, in 2014, assessed nearly 200,000 research outputs and 7,000 impact case studies submitted by more than 52,000 academics in 154 institutions. Lord Stern’s independent review of the process for accessing university research was published in summer 2016 and new proposals are incremental, in recognition of the additional burden of any new processes. Key recommendations include a new institutional level assessment to reward collaboration on interdisciplinary activities; widening and deepening the notion of research “impact” to include influence on public engagement, culture and on teaching; and, perhaps the biggest shift, to include all research active staff and creating a more flexible framework to ease the pressure and simplify management. Will this encourage academics to research new areas and develop research activity on a longer time scale?

The Higher Education Funding Council for England, alongside the three funding bodies, have just concluded the consultation period on the Stern Review recommendations with the results due to be published in the summer of 2017. Further clarity on how research active staff will be measured and defined, the range and number of outputs per person required and which indicators in the new environment section are to be used will be set for REF 2021.

This timely event will help support universities and research institutions in delivering world-class research and ensure they adhere to the developing assessment criteria. The agenda includes practical learning sessions and leading stakeholder presentations designed to help higher education institutions improve REF implications, processes and interdisciplinary research for REF 2021 submissions.

“The funding bodies conclude that the REF remains the most appropriate mechanism for continuing to support our world-class research base through selectively allocating funds and by providing robust reputational and accountability information.” HEFCE consultation on the second Research Excellence Framework.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) was introduced to assess the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and inform the allocation of government funding for research. Preparations for next exercise comes at a time of radical reform in the UK higher education sector with, not only the independent review of REF, but a review of research councils, the higher education white paper and next steps for Teaching Excellence Framework, introduction of the apprenticeship levy, and departmental reorganisation of Whitehall responsibilities for universities and research. Further complications and uncertainties arise now that article 50 has been triggered and the UK government begins negotiations to leave the European Union. There could be significant implications for international collaboration, Horizon 2020 funding, and the mobility of staff and students. So how can universities and research institutions navigate the current reforms and choppy waters ahead and strengthen and protect the UK’s leadership in world-class research?

Key recommendations of the 2016 Stern Review included a new institutional level assessment to reward collaboration on interdisciplinary activities; widening and deepening the notion of research “impact” to include influence on public engagement, culture and on teaching; and, the inclusion of all research active staff to support a more flexible research framework. The funding bodies have taken on board these recommendations and outlined their policy ambition for REF 2021 to secure the continuation of a dynamic and responsive research base within UK higher education. The consultation document makes clear that this will continue to be achieved through the threefold purpose of a future REF:

  • To provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  • To provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the HE sector and for public information.
  • To inform the selective allocation of funding for research.

Further clarity on how research active staff will be measured and defined, the range and number of outputs per person required and which indicators in the new environment section are due to follow over the coming months.

Following the 2014 REF the government commissioned a UK-wide review of university research funding with the aim to cut red tape for a simpler, lighter-touch, system for the REF so that universities can focus more on delivering the world-leading research. In late 2015 Sir Paul Nurse’s independent report of the UK Research Councils, Ensuring a successful UK research endeavour, recommended a number of changes to research governance and structure to simplify transactional operations, better manage cross-cutting funding for interdisciplinary research and formation of overall research strategies and priorities for the UK. Also in 2015 The Metric Tide report identified twenty recommendations for further work and action by stakeholders across the UK research system including effective leadership; governance and management of research cultures; and coordinating activity and building evidence. Following the 2016 Stern Review the UK funding councils consultation was completed in spring 2017 with any amendments to the recommendations for REF 2021 set to be published and in place by the summer. This timely event will help support universities and research institutions in delivering world-class research and ensure they adhere to the developing assessment criteria.

Join us at Research Impact: Delivering the Excellence Framework to gain a greater understanding of the future REF assessment and submissions processes. Learn how to effectively measure and evidence impact with interactive, practical sessions on improving REF implications and interdisciplinary research.

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  • Confirmed Speakers

  • Benefits of attending

  • Learn about the future direction for research funding and assessment as the government reviews of governance, structure and evaluation develop.
  • Practical advice and solutions to assist universities in improving the quality of REF submissions and interdisciplinary research for 2021.
  • Explore new models and future iterations of research performance and evaluation.
  • The impact of the Research Excellence Framework on organisational culture and how the assessment process will inform future submissions and assessment.
  • Learn how to best evidence impact, excellence and diversity across a variety of disciplines and research projects.
  • Examples of good practice and improvements for the next REF exercise.
  • Insight into the intended and unintended consequences of REF and how the next exercise will differ.
  • The future role of metrics and data in evidencing research impact and processes.
  • Assistance in developing the quality of research outputs and demonstrating originality, significance and rigour in applications.
  • How to evidence impact beyond academia in terms of reach and significance.
  • Practical ways of developing research strategies, support for staff and students, and delivering research infrastructures and collaborations.
  • How to benchmark outcomes from Research Excellence Framework assessments towards 2021.
  • Discover how new models of research, funding and collaboration can support excellence.
  • Take advantage of knowledge sharing, professional networking and contribute to wider thinking about higher education and research.
  • Gain the maximum number of 6 CPD points.

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Event Sponsors and Supporters

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair’s Opening Address

"Welcome and introduction"

Keynote Address

"Taking the Stern Review Forward: Next Steps for Universities and Research"

Following the 2016 Stern Review the UK funding councils consultation was completed in spring 2017 with the amendments to the recommendations for REF 2021 published in September.

  • James Wilsdon, Professor of Research Policy and Director of Impact and Engagement, University of Sheffield (confirmed)
"Responsible metrics on the road to REF2021"

In July 2015, The Metric Tide report identified twenty recommendations for further work across the UK higher education and research system to develop a responsible approach to the use of metrics for research qualities & impacts. Two years on, how much progress has been made? And what role are metrics likely to play in the emerging framework for REF2021? 

"Reflections on REF 2021"

How might the (partial) decoupling of outputs from individuals impact on the REF submission process? - Expected and unexpected consequences.

  • Jon Stroll, Director, Research Analytics, Clarivate Analytics (confirmed)
"Citation analysis and bibliometrics: current trends and benefits"

Learn about recent developments in citation analysis and how national and international academic bodies are using bibliometrics to both benchmark progress and develop their future strategies.


Question and Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area

  • Tom Frostick, Policy and Programmes Manager (Research & International), University Alliance (confirmed)
"Institutional level impact and environment: what is it and how should we assess it?"

A new institutional level assessment to reward collaboration on interdisciplinary activities was recommended in the Stern Review, how will universities respond to this assessment criteria?


Shireen Ali-Khan, Client Engagement Manager, Vertigo Ventures (confirmed)

Renata McDonnell, Research and Information Systems Officer, University of Kent (confirmed)

"Embedding Impact Reporting"

Vertigo Ventures enables delivery of high quality impact reporting to its clients within the UK and internationally using the VV-Impact Tracker tool, training and consultancy. The University of Kent works with Vertigo Ventures by embedding the VV-Impact Tracker to deliver world leading impact reporting.

During this presentation, Vertigo Ventures and University of Kent explore barriers to embedding impact and the benefits of systematic approaches.


Panel Discussion

Dr Tim Horne, Head of the Research Excellence Unit, Coventry University (confirmed)
Professor Simon Tanner, Pro Vice Dean (Impact & Innovation), Arts & Humanities and Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage, Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London (confirmed)
Dr Chris Hewson, Social Sciences Impact Manager, University of York (confirmed)

"Research Excellence: Research active staff, excellence and delivering impact"

Panel members will discuss and debate the next REF assessment criteria offering practical guidance to help you improve your research excellence and to demonstrate excellence in submissions.


Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair’s Afternoon Address

"Research Impact: Laurels for the Hardy"

In this presentation, he will discuss what research impact is, how to differentiate poor impact from excellent impact and how researchers can ensure that their work is impactful.

"Broader Impact: Changing criteria, changing behaviour"

The Stern review recommends changes both to the eligibility of different types of impact for REF 2021, and the extent to which case studies must link impact to the underpinning research. How might this affect behaviour - both  in terms of what case studies HEIs submit to the REF 2021 and how they are assessed?


Question and Answer Session


Afternoon Refreshment Break

  • Adam Golberg, Research Development Manager – Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nottingham (confirmed)
"Prêt-à-non-portability? Implications and possible responses to the phasing out of publication portability"

It looks likely that the next REF will have transitional arrangements towards non-portability of outputs. What are the long term implications of this, how might it change culture, and how should institutions and individual researchers respond?

"Research Data Mechanics and Impact"

As the breadth and sophistication of research information management increases, more and more data about activities in the research lifecycle can be connected to support the tracking, monitoring and reporting of impact. This presentation will draw on our previous analyses of the REF2014 impact case studies database to show how funding, publication and Altmetric data can used to inform our understanding of impact, and where additional information is still needed.


Question and Answer Session


Chair’s Closing Remarks and Event Close

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  • News
  • Sponsors
  • Supporters
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  • Downloads


  • Responsible metrics on the road to REF 2021

    • Posted on 11 September 2017
    • by James Wilsdon
  • Can you de-couple outputs?

    • Posted on 05 September 2017
    • by Dr Simon Kerridge




Manchester Conference Centre

Manchester Conference Centre

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Downloads & Resources

  • Open Forum Events Sponsorship Brochure
    Open Forum Events offer a number of partnership, sponsorship and exhibition opportunities that can meet your marketing and business development needs.
  • Research Impact - Presentation Slides
    Research Impact - Presentation Slides
    This document includes the presentations from all speakers on the day.
  • Who did attend

  • Academics, Analysts and Researchers
  • Business Development Managers
  • Chief Scientists
  • Clinical Sciences Directors
  • Commercial Liaison Officers
  • Director of Research and Development
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Executive Directors and Chief Executive Officers
  • Heads/Deans of Science and Research Faculties
  • Heads of Research and Development
  • Heads of Research Networks
  • Heads of Funding
  • Heads of Policy
  • Heads of Technology Transfer
  • Heads of Knowledge Transfer
  • Information and Research Officers
  • Knowledge Transfer Managers
  • Managing Directors
  • Medical Directors
  • REF Managers and Case Study Writers
  • Research Directors and Associates
  • Project and Programme Managers
  • Scientific Advisors
  • Senior Scientists and Engineers
  • Senior Lecturers and Academics
  • Social Scientists
  • Technology Advisors and Analysts
  • Venture Capitalists