This document has just been released by HEFCE. If you haven’t read it, here are a few small things from my perusal of it.
Item 18 of the document states:
There was broad support in the consultation for better recognising collaborative activity in the REF. We will therefore include in the revised environment template (see paragraphs 27–29) an explicit focus on the submitting unit’s approach to supporting collaboration with organisations beyond higher education.
It seems that collaboration between, say, mathematicians and biologists doesn’t count. As for collaboration between group theorists and analysts, forget it.
The definitions of impact and their interpretation have not yet been figured out, despite the fact that it is such a crucial part of the assessment. But the “excellent” (i.e. at least two-star) research underpinning impact must have been conducted since 2000, and the impact itself must have occurred since 2013. The link between impact case studies and number of staff submitted will be maintained, though they appear to have no idea how it will work.
Impact may be rolled in with environment (there are some noises about this but it is not clear to me what is being said). They are working with an organisation called “Forum for Responsible Research Metrics”. You know my views, this is something like the Forum for Flat Earth Studies. And impact will rise from 20% to 25% of the overall assessment (no surprise there, they always get their way in the end).
A provisional timetable is enclosed (assuming it will be REF2021 and not REF2022 as has been suggested). The only thing imminent is consultation with stakeholders about the composition of subpanels and self-nomination for sub-panel chairs (this month and next, respectively).