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Initial proposals to reform research assessment and funding In 2006, the Government announced its intention to reform the framework for assessing and funding research. Following a consultation by the Government, in March 2007 HEFCE set out its initial plans for the development of a new system.
First consultation on the REF In November 2007, HEFCE issued an initial consultation on the REF. This was informed by initial studies on the potential use of bibliometric indicators in the REF. In May 2008 HEFCE announced the outcomes of the consultation, including plans to run a bibliometrics pilot exercise.
Bibliometrics pilot exercise During 2008-09, HEFCE ran a pilot exercise to test the potential for using bibliometric indicators of research quality in the REF. The results of the pilot exercise informed the second consultation on the REF.
Second consultation on the REF In November 2009, the UK funding bodies issued a second consultation on the REF, informed by the results of the bibliometrics pilot exercise. It included proposals to assess the impact of research. The outcomes of the consultation were published in March 2010, including initial decisions by the funding bodies on the design of the REF framework.
Impact pilot exercise During 2010 the REF team ran a pilot exercise to test and develop the proposed approach to assessing impact in the REF. In March 2011 the funding bodies announced their decisions on the weighting and assessment of impact within the REF.

The funding bodies' initial decisions on the design of the REF (March 2010) and the decisions on assessing research impact (March 2011) together provided the policy framework within which the REF team developed the REF guidance and implemented the REF.

Sector impact assessment of the REF

In developing the REF, we undertook an assessment of the impact of the proposals on the HE sector in terms of regulatory burden, equality and diversity, and sustainable development.