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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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The internal draft of the Consultation on the Second Research Excellence Framework that was requested by FOI last February contained the following clause:

The outcomes of REF 2014 demonstrated the world-leading and continuously improving performance of UK research. In assessing submissions and applying the criteria, panels reported their ability to identify a range of research activity meeting the definition of 4* quality, but noted that the scoring scale did not provide sufficient room to reflect the more granular judgements they were able to make. To better reflect this granularity, and to ensure there is room for UK research to demonstrate continuing improvement, we are considering the arguments for and against dividing the 4* category in to two – this could be, for example, by having a 4* and 5, or 4b and 4a. Where a division of the 4 category is made, it would apply across all three elements of the assessment. We welcome views on this proposal.

The proposal for 5*s of grading has been quietly dropped from the final consultation. This seems odd. Panels last time seemed to want further levels of detail (to make the exercise more sensitive/discriminatory in its judgements). This wasn’t in Stern.

This seemed a significant change in the draft version that could have had positive consequences (or otherwise), but now it’s gone for some reason. It might be worth responses noting this and expressing a view one way or the other.