MeCCSA guidance for REF external advisor roles

Taking up at REF external advisor role? Please consider our REF research consultancy advisory paper

Documented evidence, trade union research and anecdotal evidence, together, suggest that the REF scores arrived at by external advisors may be used by Departments to change workloads, alter research-active allocations and therefore impact on the career progression of individual staff. It has been noted that while some Departments/ HEIs have a policy to ensure that external scores do not impact on workloads and career progression others have no such agreement in place or staff may not be confident that the agreement is being honoured. MeCCSA has therefore developed these basic guidelines which may form the starting point for your discussions with an HEI about taking up an external advisory role in relation to the forthcoming REF.

  • The HEI should have a REF Code of Practice (CoP) which it can send to the external advisor.
  • The CoP should spell out the relationship between REF scoring and performance management practices such as workloads, sabbaticals and promotion.
  • The HEI must be clear that an external score is provisional not definitive and that other in-house methods are also in place to arrive at grade point averages for individual outputs.
  • The HEI must be clear that you can only advise in line with the last REF, which may or may not be the guiding regulations for next time.
  • The HEI should not ask you for any information or indication about the last REF beyond what is available in the public domain now.

In sum: The HEI should  be aware that you cannot and will not provide anything that is intended to contribute to a performance review.

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