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Research Excellence Framework

HEFCE is working to develop new arrangements for the assessment and funding of research. The new arrangements - the Research Excellence Framework (REF) - will be introduced after the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

The REF will consist of a single unified framework for the funding and assessment of research across all subjects. It will make greater use of quantitative indicators in the assessment of research quality than the RAE, while taking account of key differences between the different disciplines.


Assessment will combine quantitative indicators - including bibliometric indicators wherever these are appropriate - and expert review. Which of these elements are employed, and the balance between them, will vary as appropriate to each subject. The economic and social impact of research, as well as impact upon public policy, will also contribute to the overall assessment of quality.


We are working on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for Employment and Learning (Northern Ireland) and with a wide range of stakeholders to develop the new framework, which will be fully implemented by 2014.

Our Expert Advisory Groups will help us refine our proposals for consultation, which will be published in autumn 2009.

Further information and resources

Our resources page provides a list of associated publications, research reports and other documents that have informed the development of the REF.

Last updated 17 February 2009