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REF rules risk killing expert judgement with kindness

If panels are given too much guidance, the evaluation could become a box-ticking exercise, says Gemma Derrick.

I don’t want to be hypercritical of the team working on the 2021 Research Excellence Framework. Those involved should be congratulated for delivering another innovative and slightly brave evaluation. But I do have one niggling concern.

Since the UK funding councils published the rules for REF2021 on 1 September, discussion has focused on the crowd-pleasing increase in the value of societal impact from 20 per cent to 25 per cent, the broadening of its definition to include teaching and public engagement, and the distracting ambiguity around whether researchers can take their outputs with them when they move  between institutions.

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