The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of UK higher education research in all disciplines. Last undertaken in 2014, the next REF will take place in 2021.
What is the purpose of REF?
The funding bodies’ aim for this research assessment is to maintain the standard of "world-class, dynamic and responsive research... across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education". REF has a threefold purpose:
1. Accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment.
2. Benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the HE sector and for public information.
3. Inform the selective allocation of funding for research.
Further information is available here.