Additional experts appointed to the REF panels

19 June 2013

The four UK funding bodies have appointed over 200 additional assessors to augment the expertise of the panels that will assess UK universities’ research in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Most of the new appointments are ‘users’ of research from the private, public and third sectors. They will help to assess the impact that universities’ research has had on the economy, society and culture. The other assessors are practising researchers, appointed to broaden the academic expertise of the panels when assessing the quality of research outputs. Details of the assessors have been published on the REF web-site.

Around 50 further appointments will be made, to fill some remaining gaps in expertise. The published list of members will be updated monthly until the recruitment of assessors is complete.

There will be significantly more research users on panels compared with the previous research assessment exercise: an average of around six users per sub-panel. They will work jointly with academic panel members to assess the impact case studies submitted by universities which now form part of the assessment. The assessment of impact counts for 20 per cent of the overall results.

Research users are being recruited from a wide range of backgrounds, which reflects the diverse impacts universities have indicated they intend to submit to the REF. These include:

  • business and industry sectors such as aerospace, agriculture and food, the automotive industry, chemicals, creative industries, financial services, information technology, instrumentation, manufacturing, medical technology, mining, pharmaceuticals, product design, publishing and telecommunications
  • the public sector, including people involved in arts and cultural policy, business and economic policy, conservation, defence, education, the energy sector, environmental policy and services, forensics, health, housing, international development, legal services, local government, policing and criminal justice, transport, social policy and welfare services
  • the third sector, cultural and public life, including people from broadcasting and the media, charities, civil society organisations, the heritage sector, museums, libraries, galleries, non-governmental organisations, public opinion polling and think-tanks, and the visual and performing arts.


  1. The 36 REF sub-panels will assess universities’ submissions to the REF. They work under the guidance of four main panels, who are responsible for approving the REF outcomes. The REF expert panels were originally established in 2011, to develop the assessment criteria for the exercise. Approximately 770 members were appointed at that stage.
  2. In late 2012, all universities participating in the REF completed a survey to indicate the content and volume of their intended submissions. The REF panels met in early 2013 to review the survey data and identify what additional expertise would be needed to carry out a robust assessment.
  3. Most of the appointed assessors have been selected from nominations that had already been made, either from the original pool of around 4,000 individuals nominated as panel members during 2010, or from the additional 700 nominations of ‘research users’ made in late 2013. Where necessary, additional nominations have been sought from nominating bodies for individuals with specific expertise.
  4. The closing date for REF submissions is 29 November 2013 and panels will undertake the assessment throughout 2014. The outcomes of the REF will be published in December 2014. Further information on the REF timetable is available on the REF website.
  5. Further information about the REF.

Page last updated 19 June 2013

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