Research Excellence Framework 2021

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

It commenced in 2014 when it replaced the previous Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and is undertaken through a process of expert review by those who command the confidence and respect of the academic community and wider stakeholders.

RCOT is now inviting expressions of interest in being considered for nomination for membership of a REF2021 Main Panel and/or of Sub-Panel 3. Deadline for expressions of interest is 24 November 2017.

Dr Jo Watson, RCOT’s Assistant Director – Education and Research, is very happy to have an informal conversation with anyone who might wish discuss the roles and/or their suitability for them ahead of submitting an expression of interest. Please contact Angie Brown on angie.brown@rcot.co.uk to arrange a time to do so.

More on REF2021

Background on REF2021

The purpose of the REF2021 is to provide accountability for and to make decisions about the allocation of public money to support research, to produce evidence of the benefits of this investment and provide performance bench-marking information, and to inform strategic decisions about national research priorities.

It will be managed by a team based at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and overseen a Steering Group comprising representatives of the four UK higher education funding bodies.

Preparing for REF2021

At first glance, 2021 might seem a long way ahead, but this is a highly complex undertaking and preparations are already well underway. Academic disciplines are clustered together into four ‘Main Panels’ which are divided into ‘Sub-Panels’ dealing with each of the 34 ‘Units of Assessment’ (UoA).

The majority of research undertaken by occupational therapists and/or related to occupational therapy will fall into UoA 3 (allied health professions (AHPs), dentistry, nursing and pharmacy) within Main Panel A (medicine, health and life sciences) which will be Chaired by Professor John Iredale, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health) from the University of Bristol.

Applications for the role of Chair for individual Sub-Panels closed on 11 October 2017. In keeping with the processes involved, RCOT was approached for a statement of support by some of those applying to Chair the Sub-Panel for UoA 3. 

RCOT based its decisions on the depth and breadth of experience and expertise each had to bring to the role together with the availability of evidence indicating a strong appreciation of the growth and development of research within the AHPs broadly and occupational therapy in particular.

Similar requests will have been made to other professional bodies and groups or organisations that represent the disciplines encompassed by UoA 3, each of which will have made their own decisions about who to support and on what basis. At this stage, RCOT expects an announcement of the outcome of this competitive process to be made in December 2017.

The role of the Sub-Panel

Under the guidance of the Chair, it will be the role of each Sub-Panel to rigorously scrutinise and make assessments about the quality and impact of all of the research submitted to that particular UoA, and the environment within which it was undertaken.

Submissions to each UoA can be made by all eligible institutions from across the UK and the work to examine those submissions will be undertaken across a full year during 2021.

Roles and recruitment of the expert panels

The next stage in the preparatory process for REF2021 is selecting the membership of the various panels. RCOT is a REF Nominating Body and therefore has the opportunity to put forward the names of suitably experienced and qualified occupational therapists to be considered for these important, prestigious and demanding roles, more details of which are available via the REF2021 website and the roles document available online too.

Nominations for REF2021

The organisers of REF2021 will be seeking to ensure that panel membership reflects the diversity of the research community, including in terms of protected characteristics, scope and focus of their home institution, and geographical location.

Nominations are invited for:

  • Additional members of the four Main Panels: individuals interested in being nominated for these roles will need to have expertise in leading, commissioning or making use of interdisciplinary research, leading research internationally, or senior level experience in the commissioning, use or wider benefits of research.
  • Sub-Panel members and assessors: individuals interested in being nominated for these roles will predominately be practising researchers who have a breadth of research experience and carry the confidence of the community, and will also include those with expertise in commissioning, applying or making use of research.

Nominations are also welcome from those who will be new to REF panel membership as well as those who have previous experience.

Appointing Sub-Panel members

Note that there will be a two-stage approach to appointing Sub-Panel Members.

  1. Sufficient members will be appointed to ensure the availability of appropriate expertise to develop the criteria for assessment in 2018.
  2. Additional members will then be appointed in 2020 to ensure the availability of an appropriate number of members to contribute to the assessment of all elements of submission to the UoA.

Those nominated but not initially appointed in 2018 will be considered again in 2020, and there will also be an additional round of nominations at that time. Panel members will be appointed by the Chief Executives (or equivalent) of each of the four UK higher education funding bodies with input from the relevant Sub-Panel Chair.

It is important to note that appointments will be made on the basis of personal experience and expertise, not as representatives of any group or interest.

Sub-Panel members are expected to have appropriate expertise to contribute to the development of the criteria to be used to assess research across the Sub-Panel’s remit, with an ability to understand and appreciated a diverse range of research topics and approaches.

The REF2021 Roles and recruitment guidance documentation indicates that ‘appropriate expertise’ includes interdisciplinary research and expertise in the wider use or benefits of research.

How can occupational therapists get involved?

Those occupational therapists likely to be best placed to succeed in securing a Sub-Panel role include those with a sustained track-record of peer-reviewed publications and attracting and delivering funded research, who have a strong professional profile nationally and internationally, with a thorough understanding of the impact agenda and experience of sitting on grant-funding or other key decision-making bodies.

These are demanding roles, so those wishing to be considered will need to evidence the support of their employer. You can also download more about the provisional timetable and workload implications. This should be carefully considered ahead of any expression of interest.

Secondment opportunities with the REF panel secretariat 

HEFCE are seeking to appoint, on a secondment basis, up to ten panel advisers and up to thirteen panel secretaries to work with the REF Team and the expert panels, to provide high-quality, dedicated secretariat support and procedural guidance to one main panel and a group of sub-panels through the criteria-setting phase of the REF.
 
The application deadline is the 28 November 2017, and you can find out more at the the REF site.
 

Registering an expression of interest for Panel Membership

The Royal College of Occupational Therapists is a REF Nominating Body and therefore has the opportunity to put forward the names of suitably experienced and qualified occupational therapists to be considered for membership of a REF2021 Main Panel and/or Sub-Panels 2 or 3.
 

You can register your expression of interest in being nominated by RCOT by:

  1. Completing this Expression of Interest form available below.
    PLEASE NOTE: The information you provide here will be used in the nomination form that the RCOT needs to complete for HEFCE should you be nominated.
     
  2. Providing an up-to-date copy of your CV.
     
  3. Providing evidence of employer support for you to be considered for one of these demanding roles.
     
  4. Completing the anonymous equal opportunities monitoring form below.
    PLEASE NOTE: This information will be held separately from items 1-3 above, and will be used solely to enable RCOT to fulfil its equal obligation to report to HEFCE how we have managed

Dr Jo Watson, Assistant Director – Education and Research, is very happy to have an informal conversation with anyone who might wish discuss the roles and/or their suitability for them ahead of submitting an expression of interest. Please contact Angie Brown (angie.brown@rcot.co.uk) to arrange a time to do so.

Please send the full set of required documentation to REF2021@rcot.co.uk by 12 noon on Friday 24th November 2017.

What happens next?

On Monday 11th December, RCOT will hold a REF2021 Nominations Panel which will consider anonymised expressions of interest to decide which we will take forward to nomination. There are no limits to the number of nominations we can make.

We will submit our nominations and the report about how we have managed issues of equality and diversity to HEFCE via the on-line process ahead of the deadline on Wednesday 20th December 2017.

HEFCE will notify nominees of the outcome of the nomination process. They will contact nominees to confirm nomination and request completion of their own on-line equal opportunities monitoring form, which will enable them to anonymously compare the representativeness of the pool of nominees with the appointed panels.

PLEASE NOTE: There will be a two-stage approach to appointing Sub-Panel Members. In 2018, sufficient members will be appointed to ensure the availability of appropriate expertise to develop the criteria for assessment. In 2020 additional members will be appointed to ensure the availability of an appropriate number of members to contribute to the assessment of all elements of submission to the UoA. Those nominated but not initially appointed in 2018 will be considered again in 2020, and there will also be an additional round of nominations at that time.

IMPORTANT NOTE: 
If you are nominated and subsequently discover that you are unable to sit on a REF2021 Panel, you are urged to contact the REF Team at admin@ref.ac.uk to ask to be withdrawn from consideration.
 

 

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