National Assessments

National Assessments

Traditionally in higher education, research impact has been aligned with bibliometric measures which capture elements of research productivity and research impact (i.e. number of publications and citations). However, such measurements do not tell the full story of how academic research is making contribution to the economic, environment and environment. How do we know through number of publications or number of citations that renowned research is benefiting individuals, organizations or even public policy making?

One important way, which has seen varying states of adoption worldwide, is by incorporating consideration of impact beyond academia into national assessments – frameworks that, depending on region, can play a critical role in determining the amount of funding an institution can receive.

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What are some examples of National Assessments?

United Kingdom (UK) Research Excellence Framework (REF)


The UK’s Research Excellence Framework takes place in 7-year cycles (the latest being REF 2021).

Australia Engagement and Impact Assessment (EI)

EIA 2024

Australia’s EIA takes place in 6 year cycles – the last was in 2018 and the next is due in 2024.
New Zealand Flag

PBRF 2025

New Zealand’s Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) will include impact for the first time in 2025.

REF (Research Excellence Framework)

For the first time, the United Kingdom’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) undertook a systematic evaluation and assessment of the impact of publicly funded research across all disciplines, which was carried out in 2014. Each higher education institution is required to submit a selection of impact case studies for assessment in the REF. Each impact case study contains information about the research and description the impact of research undertaken. Then, what is considered research impact under REF?
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Research impact is… an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia
UK's Research Excellence Framework (REF)

REF 2021

There is no limitation to the types of impact that have been created by impact. Guidance from REF has highlighted 8 impact types which follow the PESTLE convention (Political, Economic, Societal, Technological, Legal, and Environmental), alongside 2 other impact types: Health and Cultural.

HEFCE explains, “Measuring impact provides insights into delivery, which helps to maximise the benefits of research. A better understanding of what has worked well in the past, alongside robust assessment of progress in ongoing research projects, enables researchers and research units to make adjustments and improvements for greater impact in the future”.

The UK’s research assessment exercise and its inclusion of research impact in REF 2014 provided a framework for other national and city-wide research assessments to follow suit, most notably Australia’s EIA 2018 and Hong Kong’s RAE 2020.

EIA (Engagement and Impact Assessment)

Australia’s Engagement and Impact Assessment (EIA) took place in 2018 to assess academics and researchers’ engagement with the ‘end-user’ of research and how research create or have economic, environmental and social impacts. While the UK’s REF 2014 provided the blueprint of the EIA 2018, the Australian Research Council consulted both university and industry stakeholders on and conducted a pilot study before finalising the assessment.

The EIA 2018 focuses on two areas: Engagement and Impact. Engagement refers to ‘the interaction between researchers and research end-users outside of academia for the mutually beneficial transfer of knowledge, technologies, methods or resources’ (EIA 2018 Assessment Handbook). And Impact refers to ‘the contribution that research makes to the economy, society, environment, or culture, beyond the contribution to academic research’.

When looking at REF 2014 and EIA 2018, the use of terminologies is different, but the essence is the same. The Australian Research Council says, the EIA and the impact case studies ‘provide insights into areas of strength across all disciplines. This information demonstrates the impact that research is having – from delivering cutting-edge technologies, supporting communities and their safety, to addressing some of the major challenges affecting society’ (Engagement & Impact Assessment 2018-19 National Report).

When are the next national assessments?


Netherlands Strategic Evaluation Protocol (SEP)

SEP 2015-2021

The cycle is coming to an end this year and will be replaced by the Strategic Evaluation Protocol for 2021-2027.
Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings

THE 2022

The Impact Rankings will open for submissions in September 2021.
United Kingdom (UK) Research Excellence Framework (REF)

REF - 2028?

The Research Excellence Framework submissions have ended for the 2021 cycle – the next cycle is yet to be confirmed!
Poland Research Impact Assessment (RIA)

REE 2022

The pilot Research Evaluation Exercise will take place in 2022.
Australia Engagement and Impact Assessment (EI)

EI 2024

The last results were out in 2018.


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