The Hidden REF

David Wilby
15 April 2021 13:00

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK government’s scheme for assessing the quality of research in UK universities. Every few years, UK universities are asked to submit examples of their research for review, following an internal review process. In short, universities submit their best examples of:

  • published articles,
  • case studies of research impact, and
  • data on doctoral degrees awarded and research income.

Ultimately, the outcome of the REF dictates central government funding provided to Universities - which, as a result, are incentivised to place value predominantly on research activities and outputs which result in high quality rankings in the REF. (See an explanation of these competing demands here:

To challenge preconceptions about what is important in research, the organisers of The Hidden REF aim to recognise all research outputs and roles within research that make it possible. The Hidden REF is a competition taking submissions in a broad set of categories (many of which are community contributed) across the research spectrum, including but not limited to: hidden roles such as data stewards, librarians and ahem RSEs; citizen science; software; and research datasets.

Submissions are in the form of 300 word nominations and the competition is open until 14th May 2021. Submissions will be judged by panels of experts drawn from the research community.

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