Research Excellence Framework

The Research Excellence Framework, commonly known as the REF, is a system of audit that attempts to evaluate the quality of university research in the United Kingdom in order to inform the allocation of public resources across the higher education sector. University research in the United Kingdom has long been based upon a dual support system made up of two parts: (1) block grants provided by central government in order to provide a general underpinning for research capacity and (2) funds for specific research grants administered by research councils. These two different sources of funding for research have, historically, relied on very different administrative processes.

The origins of the REF occurred in the mid-1980s under the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which took the ...

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