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Held back by the REF

Could differences in national research assessment exercises hamper internationally mobile researchers? Historian Ray Laurence’s move to Australia made him wonder.

A whole ecosystem of professional services—with blogs, conferences and survival guides—has sprung up in both the UK and Australia, as universities seek to gain the best possible result in their respective national research assessment exercises.

I have played my part in all of this, having overseen eight submissions for the Research Excellence Framework 2014 in my former job as director of research in the humanities faculty at the University of Kent. But I never considered how supporting researchers in fulfilling national assessment criteria might distort or even hinder research, until I moved from the UK to take up a job at Macquarie University in Australia 18 months ago.

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