In answer to a question about moving between employment in the UK and the US, user StrongBad suggests that "the obsession with the UK REF will likely push your CV in directions that are not ideal for getting a job in the US."
This point struck me as interesting, as in some respects it appears counter intuitive. When I asked why this was the case, he suggested that it would make a good question. I'm now asking that question.
For those unaware of the REF, it is a regularly occurring (and not uncontroversial) nationwide assessment exercise which is used to guide the distribution of funding amongst UK universities.
In order to perform well in the REF, there is a pressure on researchers in the UK to produce a number of publications (four, to be precise) which are deemed to be of a high level. In assessing quality, reviewers are guided to consider whether a piece of work is "world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour". Furthermore, since the most recent REF another consideration for assessment has been whether research has "an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia."
What's therefore not clear to me is why would building a CV containing publications deemed by peers to be world-leading, and conducting research which peers deem to have benefit outside of academia, not be ideal for job prospects in US academia?