Post-2014 REF

Background on the next REF exercise

The details of the next Research Excellence Framework exercise are not yet known. At present, therefore, we are working on the assumption that it will be substantially similar to previous exercises.

The green paper on Higher Education, published by BIS in November 2015, commits to holding a peer reviewed REF by 2021. It asks whether the results of a future exercise should be ‘refreshed’ using metrics and other measures, but in between full peer review. The paper reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the dual support system.  However, the proposed replacement of HEFCE with an Office for Students means it is unclear what body would run the exercise.

Sir Paul Nurse’s review of the Research Councils also recommends maintaining the dual support funding system. It suggests that HEFCE’s research functions, including the REF, could be incorporated into the role of a new organisation, Research UK (RUK), which would replace Research Councils UK, but with wider responsibilities and a formalised role.

On 16th December 2015, the Government confirmed details of a review of the REF. The review will be chaired by the President of the British Academy and former World Bank Chief Economist Lord Nicholas Stern. It will be tasked to explore ways in which a simpler, lighter-touch, system for the REF might be developed in order ‘to cut red tape’, but which ensures excellence remains the central basis for allocating support and funding for research.


Post-2014 REF and Open Access

The policy for open access in the next REF was published by HEFCE in March 2014 and comes into effect on 1 April 2016. Recent publications and announcements have not changed this. For journal articles and conference papers to be eligible for submission to the next REF, authors need to act on acceptance to deposit their accepted manuscripts into a compliant open access repository within three months of the date of acceptance. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection. The policy applies to articles and papers accepted for publication after 1 April 2016, although Oxford authors are encouraged to start now in order to ensure they are ready. For more information and to deposit, go to:


Further information

Department for Business Innovation & Skills Green Paper on Higher Education (November 2015): Fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice

Sir Paul Nurse’s review of the UK Research Councils: Ensuring a successful UK research endeavour

HEFCE’s Open Access Policy:

The University of Oxford Open Access Information Website:

Further information on the University of Oxford’s Act on Acceptance Policy: