The UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the centralised mechanism by which the government determines the research output quality of an institution.

In the 2013 UK REF, it was possible for researchers/academics to move to a new institution just before the REF but still have research performed entirely at their old institution count towards the new one.

Is this still to be the case with the 2020 REF?

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    Have the details of the 2020 REF been released yet? In fact, do we even know for certain that it's not 2021? At least where I work, we seem to be working on the basis that work performed at old institutions, but published during the relevant period, will still be eligible. – Ian_Fin Oct 31 '16 at 11:49
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    Pedantic note: While, in my experience at least, much of the work developing submissions seemed to have taken place in 2013, strictly speaking it was REF 2014 – Ian_Fin Oct 31 '16 at 11:52
  • Surely the funding councils are the best placed to answer this question? – G-E Oct 31 '16 at 12:21
  • I managed to track down an independent review of the last REF gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/…, which is critical of such 'gaming' (Section 28) but know of no concrete decision regarding this, hence the question. – NietzscheanAI Oct 31 '16 at 15:12
  • Probably no, there are indication this is likely to be changed, to avoid "gaming". – Captain Emacs Oct 31 '16 at 15:49

TL/DR: We don't know yet, but outputs will probably not be portable.

In July 2016 Lord Stern published the Independent Report: Research Excellence Framework Review. The report identified recruitment (i.e., poaching) as a behavior designed to "game" the system and:

We therefore recommend that outputs should be submitted only by the institution where the output was demonstrably generated. If individuals transfer between institutions (including from overseas) during the REF period, their works should be allocated to the HEI where they were based when the work was accepted for publication.

This report was a reflection on the 2014 REF (and earlier RAEs). The post 2014 REF has not been fully defined (or really even partially defined). The Department for Education responded on 13 October 2016 to Lord Stern's report. In general, the response was positive and the Department for Education has asked HFECE to create "specific and detailed practical arrangements". The HEFCE posted a brief on 16 Oct 2016 about the plans going forward. Specifically, they are now looking at "non-portability of outputs". Consultation is slated to begin November 2016.

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