Wednesday, 16 July 2014

You are the REF

The earth systems and environmental science panel
Every 6 years or so the entire University-based academic community in the UK is assessed to check that we're doing a good job. The assessment is carried out by (in England) the Higher Educaion Funding Council for England (or HEFCE for short), and the equivalent bodies for Wales and Scotland. University's decide on groupings of academics (which often correspond to departments) to be assessed. The assessment is done by a bunch of academics. This process is currently called the Research Excellence Framework (REF), in the past it was called the Research Assessment Exercise.

The Radisson Blu where we are meeting
I sit on the panel of academics tasked with assessing "Earth Systems and Environmental Science". We have to assess "outputs", i.e. research, "impact", i.e. does the research that has been done have an effect on society in some way, and environment, i.e. what the place is like where we do our research. The process comprises reading a lot of documents, grading them and then meeting with other panel members to discuss.

A couple of '60s tower blocks
visible from the hotel
A Chinese pagoda that you can see from the hotel.
It's here due to the closeness of the Chinese district.

We're over half way through the process now and today and tomorrow I'm in exotic Birmingham continuing the work. More than that I'm probably not allowed to say.

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