The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy


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Research Excellence Framework

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs).

Research Excellence Framework

Research Excellence Framework

This framework replaces the old system known as the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

REF is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies and the first assessment will be completed in 2014.

The primary purpose of REF is to produce assessment outcomes for each submission made by institutions:

  • The funding bodies use the assessment outcomes to inform the selective allocation of their research funding to HEIs
  • The assessment provides accountability for public investment in research and produces evidence of the benefits of this investment
  • The assessment outcomes provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks.

Expert review panels

REF: Expert review panels

REF is a process of expert review. It covers all disciplines, which are grouped and assessed by four main panels and 36 subpanels known as units of assessment (UoA).

HEIs decide which research departments they will submit, and which UoA they will submit to.

The UoA of most relevance to physiotherapy research is UoA3 for Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy.

Further information on REF panel membership

Assessment framework

All submissions are judged by the same assessment criteria and awarded an overall quality profile.

There are three components (sub-profiles) to each submission:

  • Output – the assessment criteria for the quality of outputs are originality, significance and rigour. This sub-profile represents 65% of the overall quality profile
  • Impact – the assessment criteria for impact are reach and significance. This sub-profile represents 20% of the overall quality profile
  • Environment – the assessment criteria for environment are vitality and sustainability. This sub-profile represents 15% of the overall quality profile

Further links


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