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Make this REF the last


Global forces now drive the changes that national evaluations sought to promote, says Jonathan Adams

The UK Future Research Assessment Programme seems to spawn surveys, analyses and expert panels monthly—apparently because policymakers have yet to identify, to quote a UK Research and Innovation news release, “what a healthy, thriving research system looks like”. The current consultation closes on 6 May, less than a week before the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework are released.

Frap is the latest in a procession of reviews. Milestones include: Gareth Roberts’s 2003 review of the Research Assessment Exercise, which led to quality profiles replacing single grades; the 2008 metrics consultation and pilot, which rejected citation indicators; the introduction of impact case studies in REF 2014; the 2015 Metric Tide review, which endorsed the status quo; and Nicholas Stern’s 2016 review.

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